Can I Be Fired for Having an STD or STI?
A person’s employment status should rely on two things, and two things only: their qualifications that relate to that job, and their ability to perform that job. Making employment decisions based on anything else, like conditions that the employee may have, is considered unlawful in the eyes of the law and can put that employer in legal trouble if the discriminated employee decides to file a lawsuit against their former employer. If such has happened to you or someone you know, it is highly recommended that you contact a lawyer and see if they can help you.
Our Los Angeles lawyers have helped many people get what they are owed in damages because their employer acted unlawfully and discriminated against them for having a disability which is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We are headquartered in the Los Angeles area and accept cases from anywhere in California.
Every day, we get asked questions that may help you understand your rights and alert you to any forms of discrimination to which you may have been exposed recently or in the past.
Examples of such questions include:
- Can I be fired for having an STI? What are my rights if I was wrongfully terminated due to a sexually transmitted disease?
- Can a person be fired or terminated for having an STD? Can I sue my boss for that?
- Can I be denied a job because of an STI?
- Can I lose my job because of getting an STD? If that happens, can I hire a lawyer to sue my employer?
- My employer fired me because of having an STI. Can he legally do that? What are my rights?
- When is a person legally required to tell his boss about an STD? Am I legally required to disclose my STI to my employer?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act offers legal protections to those with what it considers a disability. One of the main functions of the ADA is to protect employees from employment discrimination. The definition of a disability under the legal dictionary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by other as having such an impairment.” For example, if an employer has found out about a disability protected under the ADA, that employer cannot fire that employee simply because of that disability. Even if the employee can only perform the essential functions of the job – the bare minimum that is required of that job, or why that job exists in the first place – the employer must keep them under their employment and provide any reasonable accommodations to help them perform the essential duties of their job. E.g., if a person needs wheelchair access, modified work schedule, or even an extra chair upon which to rest their leg, the employer must provide it – barring any difficulty or impossibility on the employer’s end.
Can You Be Terminated for Having an STI?
Sexually transmitted diseases, or infections, are viruses that infect a person’s blood and can affect their livelihood, depending on the kind of infection they have contracted. Some STDs, like HIV, can and do make people very ill and very clearly impact their ability to perform a major life function. In many cases, STIs hardly affect anyone’s livelihood, but that doesn’t mean they are not protected under the existing laws of the land.
Because your STD may be a protected medical condition under its definition of “disability,” you may be protected under the law.
If your STI does not affect your life and you do not require any reasonable accommodations, does not mean that you are not protected under the ADA. Your employer cannot act based solely off of your STD. For instance, if your employer has learned about your STI, they cannot fire you simply because you have one unless they can prove, with supported medical evidence and objective facts, that your employment is a hazard to everyone’s health and safety. It must be noted that there are very few jobs which pose a contamination risk and merit such severe action by the employer. If they do terminate you based off of your affliction, you may have the legal grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer for wrongful discrimination termination.
Can I Be Overlooked and Denied a Job Because I Have an STD?
Applicants that are looking for employment are, too, protected under the ADA if they have a condition that is encapsulated within their disabilities. If you have an STD and have disclosed this information to your potential employer, the employer must consider you in the same light as other applicants without a disability. It is unlawful for them to not hire you just because of your condition. In addition, an employer cannot assume you have a disability and overlook your application simply because it appears that you have a disability.
How to File a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you for having an STI, you may be within your right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. Our Los Angeles attorneys can help and answer any questions that you may have about this procedure. Below we will outline a few steps to take before filing a lawsuit:
You must first file a charge with a government agency, either at the state or federal level. Government agencies which are in charge of ensuring their employers act within the laws of their land are called Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs). In the state of California, the FEPA is known as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The federal agency is known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which was made to ensure that everyone has some legal protections against discrimination.
Whether you choose to file with one agency or the other, a duplicate copy of the charge is sent to the other agency to ensure there are no duplicate charges in place.
You have 180 calendar days to file the charge with the EEOC from the day that you experienced the discrimination. Depending on the statutes of your state and if you apply through your state’s FEPA, that limit can be extended to 300 calendar days.
If the government agency deems that the evidence you have provided is adequate, it may pursue action on your behalf, but more often, it will designate a “right-to-sue” letter which gives you the power to file a claim against your former employer. It must be noted that once you have been issued the right-to-sue letter, you only have 90 days to move forward and file the lawsuit, so it is recommended you request the letter only when you are ready to proceed and have legal counsel.
Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee
We at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group offer free consultation and offer a zero-fee guarantee. Free consultation means that you will have the opportunity to sit with our attorneys and explain your case to them. They will give you initial thoughts and supply advice on how to proceed. The zero-fee guarantee is our promise to you that you will only pay if we win the case. There is no financial risk on your end – it is all on us, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe that you have been wrongfully discriminated against for having an STD.