In addition to personal health consequences, those who have contracted HIV or AIDS may face additional challenges in the workplace including discrimination. Under federal law, discrimination against individuals who have been diagnosed with AIDS is illegal. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination based on disability and courts have found that even asymptomatic HIV is protected under this law. Workplace discrimination against HIV/AIDS applicants and employees may take the form of failure to hire, demotion, or termination of employment.
Those with AIDS may also face complications related to finding healthcare, a barrier which is addressed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA gives AIDS patients with group coverage new protections against discrimination. It makes health care coverage more accessible to small businesses and their employees. After termination, HIV/AIDS patients are entitled to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA), health insurance after their own employment is terminated. For most employees who must cease employment for health related reasons, COBRA benefits extend from 18 to 36 months.
Workers with AIDS may encounter discrimination at any stage of employment. From hiring to seeking paid leave and medical care, through termination or job loss. Those who have suffered from discrimination in the form of adverse employment action, health care denial, or under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), have the right to take action against an unlawful employer. The FMLA allows employees to take leave for serious medical conditions or to care for a loved one who suffers from HIV/AIDS. Those who are eligible are entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
Nationwide, employees have reported being fired for openly discussing their illness. Many of these employment terminations were related to the stigma associated with HIV. In addition to losing employment, terminated employees may then struggle to find health insurance after reporting that they have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Discrimination of AIDS patients is pervasive in California and nationwide. There are over 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with AIDS and working in industries ranging from health care and service to law enforcement. Workplace discrimination can take many forms, including failure to hire, demotion, change of job duties, change of hours, reduced pay, and termination. HIV/AIDS patients have often been forced into silence to prevent adverse employment action or termination. Between 1997 and 2013, the EEOC received over 3,900 complaints related to ADA violations based on HIV status.
If you are an HIV/AIDS patient and have suffered discrimination, or you have been discriminated or denied FMLA coverage involving the care of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Orange County discrimination attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals throughout California. Anyone who believes that their employment rights were threatened or violated should consider filing a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Our attorneys can review the facts of your case, advise you on the best possible course of action, and aggressively defend your rights and interests.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.
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