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When Work Treats You Differently After They Learn You Have HIV

Posted by Brian Vogel | Oct 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

There have been significant strides over the past few decades forward for people living with HIV in the U.S., from a decrease in social stigma to great achievements in medicine making it more and more possible for those with HIV to live long, healthy, and productive lives. Sadly, those with HIV still suffer discrimination in the workplace from co-workers, managers/supervisors, administrators, and owners. Some workers with HIV find that they are treated differently at work once others learn of their HIV status. This could be due to irrational worries about a person's ability to complete job tasks, concerns about health insurance costs and medical appointments/leaves, horribly outdated fears about contagion, discriminatory prejudices about optics and reputation, or any other number of reasons that unfortunately persist, even in a place like California. Whatever the motive, HIV discrimination in the workplace is illegal under both federal and California state law, and, in many cases, you can pursue a successful employment lawsuit against your employer for financial damages and injunctive relief, including restoring you to your position.

Failure to Hire

Employers are prohibited from hiring people based on their HIV status in nearly all cases. HIV is considered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which provides wide-ranging protections for those with disabilities. Under the ADA, employers must provide applicants who have HIV with reasonable accommodations to work at the company if there is a belief that somehow having HIV would interfere with the applicant's ability to do the job.

Again, given the strides in HIV treatment, the types of work that would actually be affected by a person's HIV status would be very limited. The federal government has said, for example, that food preparation or health care work are generally not off limits to workers with HIV who take safety precautions.

Wrongful Termination

Similarly, employers are restricted by state and federal law from terminating a person's employment, demoting them, or changing their job tasks based on their HIV status. This is true whether the adverse employment decision is based on an issue such as concern about safety or ability to do the job, concern about health care costs, or discriminatory attitudes towards those with HIV.


Workers are also protected from harassment by others in the workplace due to their HIV status. Employers should not tolerate harassment against HIV-positive workers whether it comes from coworkers or supervisors.

When harassment is committed by a supervisor, it can result in an action against the company. Similarly, when co-workers harass you, and the employer either condones it or fails to take reasonable steps in response to protect you, the employer may also be liable.

Contact a Pasadena Employment Discrimination Attorney Today

The Law Offices of Brian I. Vogel represents California workers in helping them win justice and financial recovery through wrongful employment discrimination, wrongful termination, and other employment law actions. With three decades of experience in bringing hundreds of actions on behalf of California workers, Brian Vogel has the skills, tenacity, and deep knowledge of California and federal employment law to fight for justice on your behalf.

If you believe you may be a victim of HIV discrimination in the workplace, contact attorney Brian I. Vogel today to schedule a consultation regarding your options.

About the Author

Brian Vogel

Working Hard for Workers' Rights Brian I. Vogel graduated with a philosophy degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982 and with a law degree from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York in 1986 and has been a licensed California attorney since 1987. Employment attorney Brian Vo...


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