HIV/AIDS is a relatively new infection that only became known to the public in 1981 with the first reported case. Before 1981, there was very little information on the infection, and it’s hard to know how many cases existed. HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system, making it hard to fight off infections. Thanks to modern medical advances, those infected have been able to slow the progress of the disease and prolong their lives. As of 2017, 19.5 million of those infected are using anti-retroviral treatment, and as a result of initiatives and increased awareness, the number of those infected has continued to decline throughout the past decade. There are currently around 1.2 million estimated people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the United States. If you are one of these individuals and your employer has discriminated against you, you need to file a lawsuit against them. Call our office to get in contact with one of California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group’s HIV/AIDS discrimination lawyers. Our lawyers are experts on the state and federal laws that protect you from being discriminated against at work and grant you certain rights in relation to your diagnosis. Do not let unlawful employers get away with discriminating against you for a positive HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Your rights are just as valid as anyone else’s.
What laws protect me from discrimination against HIV/AIDS?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against those that are disabled in all areas of public life. Title I of the ADA specifically focuses on employment discrimination. Employment discrimination, according to the law, is any action related to:
- Job application procedures
- Hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees
- Employee compensation
- Job training
- Other term, conditions, and privileges of employment
It is illegal for an employer to limit, segregate or classify a job applicant or employee in a way that negatively affects their opportunities or status because of a disability. If your employer has in any way taken any of these actions in a discriminatory way because of your HIV/AIDS you may be eligible to file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the governing body of Title I of the ADA.
You may be asking how HIV/AIDS counts as a disability, well the answer to this lies in the legal definition of a disability. The ADA defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that limit’s someone’s ability to perform one or more major life activities. Bodily functions are considered major life activities. Since HIV/AIDS affects the bodily functions of the immune system, then it can be seen as a disability under the ADA. You are covered under the ADA if you work at a company that employees at least 15 people.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a state anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against anyone under a protected category in employment and housing. A physical or mental disability is one of the protected categories protected under the FEHA, and since HIV/AIDS is a physical disability, it is covered under this law as well. You are covered under the FEHA if you work in California at a company with 5 or more employees. If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer, you also have the option to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and housing (DFEH). If you need help or have questions regarding the claim process, get in contact with one of our Sacramento HIV/AIDS attorneys who will be able to assist you with anything you need. Keep in mind, it is also illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a discrimination claim against them. If your employer has retaliated against you then you may have another discrimination or wrongful termination claim on your hands, and our Sacramento lawyers will be able to assist you with this as well.
Can I get reasonable accommodations for HIV/AIDS?
The ADA also requires employers to provide qualified employees a reasonable accommodation as long as it does not cause themselves undue hardship. Being diagnosed with HIV/AIDs, you may be in need of reasonable accommodations from your employer. Reasonable accommodations are changes or modifications in a job or work environment that allow for those with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Some examples of reasonable accommodations are:
- Modifying work schedule or supervisory methods
- Altering how or when job duties are performed
- Removing or substituting marginal function
- Moving to different office space
- Providing telework
- Making changes in workplace policies
- Providing assistive technology
- Providing reader or other staff assistance
- Removing and architectural barrier
- Providing accessible parking
- Providing materials in alternate forms
- Providing reassignment to another job
If you feel as if you need a reasonable accommodation to perform essential functions of your job, then you must start by making a request to your employer. For your request to be approved, the reasonable accommodation must not cause undue hardship to your employer and either
- Create an equal employment opportunity in the application process
- Allow you to perform essential functions of your job, or
- Allow you to enjoy equal access to benefits and privileges of employment
The states of California also allows for you to request a reasonable accommodation based on your HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Your employer must perform an interactive process after you request a reasonable accommodation by assessing your job and disability in relation to the reasonable accommodation requested. The goal of the interactive process is to remove barriers that keep people from jobs that could perform with the help of an accommodation. It is illegal for your employer to not conduct an interactive in good faith or to not do so in a timely manner. If you believe your rights under these laws have been violated, do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our Sacramento HIV/AIDS attorneys to get started on getting your rights back as an employee.
Can I get fired for taking time off work because of my HIV/AIDS?
Symptoms caused by HIV/AIDS range from fatigue, fever, night sweats, headaches, weight loss, and much more. Depending on the severity of your infection, it may be important for you to take time off from work to recover. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allow for you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for either of the following reasons:
- Childbirth, adoption, or placing a child in foster care
- Taking care of a family member with a serious medical condition
- Taking care of your own serious medical condition
This unpaid leave is also job protected, meaning you are guaranteed your job when you return from this leave. You are protected under both of these laws if you work at a company with 50 or more employees, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year, and live within a 75-mile radius of the work site. If your employer has denied you your legal right to take unpaid leave or if they have retaliated by firing you for taking the leave, then one of our skilled Sacramento HIV/AIDS attorneys will be happy to represent you in a lawsuit against your employer.
Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee
HIV/AIDS has no effect on your qualifications for a job and should not be a reason to discriminate against you. It is our job at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group to punish unlawful employers who use someone’s HIV/AIDS diagnosis as a means to discriminate. Schedule your free consultation with us to discuss your discrimination case and get started on suing your employer. We do not charge any upfront fees to represent you in an HIV/AIDS discrimination lawsuit. Our zero fee guarantee means that if we do not win you anything then you do not owe us anything. If you have already discussed your case with another attorney, but want a second opinion, we will provide that free of charge as well. Get advice from one of the top-rated HIV/AIDS attorneys in Sacramento. Our goal is always to gain you maximum recovery for your losses.