HIV and AIDS
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with HIV or AIDS when they are trying to advance in their careers. Several laws protect the rights of people living with HIV or AIDS to find jobs and advance in their careers in the same way as those without these conditions do. Some of these workers may not consider themselves disabled, but they are protected by disability discrimination laws nonetheless. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our Austin HIV discrimination lawyers may be able to help you recover damages if you have faced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on having HIV or AIDS.Mistreatment in the Workplace Based on HIV or AIDS
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers with disabilities who can perform their essential job duties with or without reasonable accommodations. To be covered, your private employer must have at least 15 employees, or you must work for a public employer. As "disability" is defined under the ADA, HIV and AIDS qualify, even if a worker is asymptomatic. You are also protected if you are perceived as being HIV positive or suffering from AIDS, or if you have a history of these conditions. You are also protected from discrimination if your partner has AIDS or HIV.
Under the ADA, your employer cannot discriminate against you with regard to aspects of employment such as hiring, promotions, demotions, training, or termination. Additionally, it cannot discriminate against you if you request a reasonable accommodation, assuming that you are qualified for the position. You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation for AIDS or HIV unless it would impose an undue hardship, given the size and operations of the employer. An HIV discrimination attorney in the Austin area can explain this standard in detail.
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment or alteration of a job or work environment that allows someone who is qualified and has a disability to either apply for a job or perform it. A reasonable accommodation for HIV or AIDS could include an altered work schedule so that you can receive treatment, or it might involve flexibility to sit or stand while working, as well as equipment to deal with vision impairment. The nature of the reasonable accommodation depends on your symptoms or needs. For some people, taking leave for a short period may be a reasonable accommodation. However, if there are multiple accommodations that would work, the employer is not required to provide your preferred accommodation. In addition to protections available to you under the ADA, you may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if your HIV or AIDS becomes symptomatic.
If you ask for a reasonable accommodation, your employer must engage in a good-faith interactive process. When a disability is not obvious, an employer may ask for documentation to show that you need the accommodation and to determine what would be an appropriate accommodation for the disability. Sometimes you may need to disclose that you have AIDS or HIV to get a particular accommodation.
For most people, disclosing that they have AIDS or HIV in the workplace is a huge decision. While some people feel unburdened by the disclosure, others are made anxious by the prospect of being harassed. Harassment for disclosing AIDS or HIV could potentially create a hostile work environment. You should be aware that your manager or supervisor needs to keep your medical information confidential, but your coworkers do not need to keep this information confidential.
The ADA prohibits retaliation. Your employer is not permitted to take an adverse action against you to retaliate for asking for or getting a reasonable accommodation, or for filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In order to file a lawsuit based on a violation of the ADA, you will need to first file a charge with the EEOC.Seek Assistance from an HIV Discrimination Lawyer in Austin
If you are concerned that your employer has discriminated against you because you have HIV or AIDS, you should consult an experienced employment discrimination attorney. Wiley Walsh, P.C. represents workers in Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment with an Austin HIV discrimination attorney.