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Heart Attack and unwanted new job as result
Dec 18, 2001

Ms. Breuer: I had a heart attack six months ago due to the HIV meds sending my Chol. and Trig. numbers sky-high. Three months ago, my employer moved me to a much-less desirable position (but at the same salary), stating: " I am worried about your health." As far as I know, he does not know my HIV+ status. Do I have any legal grounds? Of course, to follow up, I would have to reveal my status. I have been HIV+ for 10 years, on meds for 4 years, and otherwise, doing very well. This new position is a bummer! Thanks. Jerome.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Jerome, So your employer is a physician? I'll bet not. So he shouldn't be practicing medicine without a license. And you don't have to reveal your diagnosis to deal with this.

Here's what I suggest: Ask your physician to write a note to your employer stating that you are fully capable of resuming your former tasks and are able to fulfill all of the essential functions of that (former) job. Submit it to your employer with your written request to return to your former assignment. In your written request, include a statement to the effect that you appreciate your employer's concern, but did not seek this non-negotiated accommodation of your health and know that he would not want to be seen as discriminating against you. I would then encourage you to put a simple "cc:" at the bottom of the page, and give a name of an attorney, followed by the title Attorney at Law. I once saved my own job by doing this ("cc: Name, Attorney at Law") when I was threatened with termination because I was going through a divorce. (No, I'm not making this up.) It worked for me, and I truly hope that it works for you. The combination of the word "discrimination" and the cc to an attorney (make sure it's a real person) should snap him to.

If it doesn't, please pursue your case with an HIV-literate attorney. You can find one in your area at a low or no charge through the American Bar Association's AIDS Coordination Project in Washington, DC at 202-662-1025. You can do this whole thing without revealing your diagnosis. You are simply a person with a disability.

Please write to me again if you continue to have problems with this. Good luck to you, Jerome!


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