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Who has to know?
Mar 4, 1998

Hello and thank you for answering questions in this forum. I have a question in which no one has given me a straight answer about work. I had to tell my personal manager of my HIV status in order for the amount of time I missed at work to not count against me in my attendance. He assured me that no one else would know, and if he thought some one should know he would tell me first it was my choice. That was fine with me I told my supervisor along with Human resources. Since then we have a new personal manager and she wants all my supervisors to know. She said they have a right to know incase I get hurt. It seems to me that If I had never told them they would not have known but since I did it is my fault and everyone should know. The EEOC said he has a right to know for me to be able to take medications and such. but Ithink I should have the choice of telling who I know and trust. What do you think? They dont reviel who is Diabetic, people who have hepititus, and or people who have chosen not to tell about there status. Can she do this? I feel as if I have made a mistake. I turned down a better paying job because of this and our first aid policy states to treat everyone as they were infected. I know because I used to give first aid. I always wore gloves. No matter what. Thanks

Response from Ms. Breuer

Let's take this one step at a time:

1. You write, I had to tell my personal manager of my HIV status in order for the amount of time I missed at work to not count against me in my attendance.

You did not actually have to tell the personnel manager your HIV status. You had to tell the personnel manager that you have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I realize this doesn't help you, but it might help someone else you know.

2. Since then we have a new personal manager and she wants all my supervisors to know. She said they have a right to know incase I get hurt.

She could not be more wrong. She has the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of your medical information, not to inform all your supervisors. The best protection for co-workers and supervisors, should you get hurt, is knowing how to do first aid safely. Universal precautions--using gloves or some other barrier, and treating everyone's blood as if it is infected--is the protection everyone needs at work every time.

This is urgent: please contact your nearest AIDS services organization and ask to see a volunteer attorney on an emergency basis. If legal services are not provided by your local AIDS services organization, call the national CDC AIDS Hotline (1.800.232.4636, 24 hours a day) and ask for a referral to a free or very low cost HIV-knowledgeable attorney in your area, and talk with that person right away. Discrimination is much easier to prevent than to clean up. Your personnel manager is in the dark, and is about to violate your rights. The attorney will probably contact her to remind her of her duty to keep your information confidential. In any case, please print out this response and advise her of her duty for the short term this way.

3. The EEOC said he has a right to know for me to be able to take medications and such.

I would guess that the EEOC is alerting you to the need to have your supervisor know that you are being treated for a condition that requires medication so that you aren't disciplined for taking medicine on the job. Once again, you do not have to reveal your diagnosis to do that. Mention that to the attorney, too.

4. Finally, you are absolutely right about the first aid policy. You and everyone else should use gloves every time, on everyone.

I encourage you to write again if you have more problems with this. Your instincts are true. You do not have to tolerate discrimination. Please make those phone calls about the attorney right away!

Nancy Breuer



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