People living with HIV/AIDS often face discrimination. While people are more educated today about HIV/AIDS than in the past, it seems we are unable to completely eliminate discrimination, particularly in the workplace. People of a certain age may remember the film, “Philadelphia”. In it, Tom Hanks plays an attorney who has AIDS and is terminated from his position as a partner in a law firm. Can this still happen today?
Hopefully, such blatant discrimination is rare. But what about more subtle forms of discrimination? What if you are not terminated, but your employer won’t allow accommodations to help you perform your job duties? What are your rights to ask for an accommodation? When is a request a reasonable accommodation, and when does it cross the threshold into being an issue of you not being able to perform the essential functions of your job?
These are tough questions. The documentation you provide to request an accommodation can play a pivotal role in obtaining an accommodation. Of course, you do NOT have to provide your protected health information to your employer, but an employer can request documentation verifying the need for an accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a Q&A for medical professionals to assist them in understanding the reasonable accommodation process and their role in it. While it is written from this perspective, it still provides valuable information to anyone reading it, whether that is a medical professional, a person with a disability or even an employer.
To access this publication, click here: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/hiv_doctors.cfm