Got Questions About HIV Stigma and Discrimination at Work? Find Answers Here
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may offer protection from discrimination on the basis of HIV status, but stigma at work still happens. Finding out what can be done about it can be frustrating. Where can people living with HIV go with questions about stigma and the workplace?
Lambda Legal is a national civil rights organization serving people living with HIV as well as LGBTQ communities. Workplace equality is among its top priorities and, according to its website, workplace concerns are still the number-one topic its legal help desk addresses. You can contact the help desk on the Web or toll-free at 866-542-8336.
Lambda Legal also offers an extensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on this topic:
... including questions such as:
- Can I be fired (or not hired) because of my HIV status?
- What are the "essential functions" of a job, and how does the concept protect employees with HIV?
- Should I disclose to my boss and/or co-workers?
Be sure to check out the FAQ before you call or email Lambda Legal in case they include quick answers to any of your questions.
If you believe that you have been fired, refused a job or discriminated against in some other way in the workplace, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to hear from you. Report discrimination to them online or by calling 212-549-2627.
Check out the ACLU's FAQ, "Know Your Rights: HIV and Your Civil Rights in the Workplace."
If you aren't sure if you have rights, make sure by contacting the ACLU. Don't put it off, because all laws have deadlines; if you wait too long you can lose your rights.
The Legal Action Center, whose mission is fighting discrimination against people with HIV, as well as people with histories of addiction or criminal records, has also produced a FAQ, "HIV/AIDS Discrimination, Confidentiality, Employment and Disclosure."
- I just got a job offer and have to go for a medical exam. What if the doctor asks if I have HIV?
- What if I say "no" to a question about my HIV status?
Want to become an advocate for the employment rights of people living with HIV? The National Working Positive Coalition (NWPC) is a collective of people living with HIV, service providers, researchers and advocates who are committed to improving the financial and personal wellbeing of people living with HIV.
NWPC's website features a wealth of information on HIV and employment, and how to get involved in the fight to secure and preserve these rights.
NWPC president and longtime advocate Mark Misrok has written and spoken extensively on the topic of employment and HIV, including on TheBody.com:
- "Resources for People With HIV Considering Employment"
- "As Obama Directive on LGBT Discrimination Nears, Top HIV/AIDS Employment Advocate Expresses Cautious Hope"
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of employment discrimination policy for people living with HIV, the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) has tons of resources, articles and fact sheets.
Check out CHLP's article highlighting two important 2015 publications from the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission on employment and HIV:
- "HIV Stigma as a Public Health Issue: Increasing Employment Opportunities for Those Living With HIV"
Finally: TheBody.com sadly said goodbye to Jacques Chambers, our longtime expert in the Forum on Workplace and Insurance Issues, in early 2016. His legacy of education, advocacy and information sharing lives on in this comprehensive archive of past Forum questions and answers -- including questions on topics such as: