If you are discriminated against in the workplace because you are HIV positive, you may be able to sue your employer for damages, depending on the circumstances. By law, HIV and AIDS qualify as disabilities, even if the employee does not have any symptoms. Therefore, disability discrimination laws prevent employers from discriminating against employees because of the diagnosis.
The applicable federal laws cover all public employers, and private employers with 15 or more employees. The laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees in all employment practices such as hiring, firing, job assignments, benefits, wages, training, promotion, layoffs, and more.
If the employee is able to perform the essential functions of the job, but may need reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to provide that accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is any modification that would not be significantly difficult or expensive in relation to the size of the employer. For example, if an HIV positive employee needs to schedule his or her work around doctor’s appointments, the employer would probably be required to allow that. Some employers may claim that they do not want to hire a person with HIV, because of the risk to the health and safety of their other employees and to their customers. However, HIV transmission only rarely is considered a direct threat to safety.
Employers are legally prohibited from asking employees or potential employees about their HIV status. If an employer does learn that an employee is HIV positive, federal law requires that the employer keep that information confidential.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the workplace because you are HIV positive or have AIDS, you should speak with an employment attorney. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment attorney at 310-385-0567. My legal team with provide you with a free consultation. Call today to learn more.