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I quit? Because of this
Apr 16, 1998

Ms Breuer: Thank you for answering the questions on WHO has to Know? That was me. I thought of the answers you had suggested but my attorney could not find anything on this matter. I sent in this question a while ago and could not find any answers. So My t-4 dropped to 197 from 500+ so my doctor and I discussed disability due to stress. So he took me out on disability. Well I was on it for a year short term. I was not approved for long term. I had the choice of either going back to work and dealing with everyone (supervisors) knowing or quitting I chose the latter. The personal manager I was refferring to has been terminated but I really dont know who she has informed of my HIV status. She also suggested I go out on my disability in the first place. I have talked with other personal resource people and she suggested I not come back to work because of what I had to deal with. It has gotten out in the plant that I had AIDS. ANd she thought it would be best on me to just quit and look for other work. Which I agreed. My sister works at the same place and she has told me that was what was going around. I had that job for 12 years. and Now looking for a new one. There is no legal recourse for me against the place of my former employer encouraging me to quit is there? I really loved my job just the Personal manager put me under so much stress I could not take it anymore, she and I went around and around about her wanting to tell. Since I have quit and got away from her my t-4 went back up and viral load is undetectable. And another question? I applied today for a new job. at another similar company. I didnt want to disclose my status in fear of what happened to me at my previous employer. But when I had to take the pre-employment physical the doctor instructed me to put it on my form so they would know. If I didn't he said when they found out they could fire me for lying on my pre-employment screening. Now I fear I wont get this job. But I passed the physical. and the drugg screen. What do I need to do. This HIV has ruined my life career and just about to drive me crazy.

thank you for your time

Response from Ms. Breuer

If your attorney could not find anything about workplace HIV discrimination and the personnel director's ignorance about telling other supervisors of your diagnosis, you may be working with the wrong attorney, or not stating your question clearly enough. Please work with an HIV-knowledgeable attorney who understands that the issue is disclosure of HIV status. Disclosure cannot be forced except in very rare circumstances, such as the need for a diagnosis on the form used to apply for Family and Medical Leave under that Act. Even then, the disclosure must be held confidentially within the human resources or personnel department.

No, you probably have no legal recourse against your former employer for encouraging you to quit, because at that point you should have had your attorney contact your employer to educate your employer. You quit; they didn't fire you. So that's water over the dam.

Asking a person whether or not s/he has AIDS on a pre-employment physical questionnaire is not legal. You must answer the questions they ask you, but you have a right to question whether a question is legal. You are within your rights as I understand them as long as you identify yourself as having a disability that is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Period. Does your condition require reasonable accommodation at this point? I would guess not, from your correspondence, but if so, you do need to state that--but not the diagnosis. You passed the physical and the drug screening. That's it. There was no need to disclose to the doctor who did the pre-employment physical. Please stop tellling people your diagnosis while you're applying for jobs.

No one can help you to defend your rights if you give them away. Please read the sentence in italics in the previous paragraph again. That defines your responsibility to a new employer.

HIV doesn't have to ruin your career. Start thinking of it as the equivalent of an ingrown toenail. Would you tell a prospective employer about that? No. If your CD 4 count has gone up and your viral load is undetectable, your HIV status has less and less bearing on your job. Apply for a job by focusing on your skills and you'll be in much better shape. Pre-employment physicals? Take them--but don't answer questions they don't ask, or that seem to violate your rights.

Nancy Breuer


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