HIV Discrimination

Employment Lawyers Advocating for Disabled Workers in Los Angeles

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluid that causes AIDS. HIV can be transmitted through sex, blood transfusions, childbirth, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. HIV mostly infects vital cells in the immune system and results in low levels of CD4+ T cells. If the numbers of these cells go below a certain threshold, the body becomes more susceptible to infections. When HIV goes untreated, most people who are infected develop AIDS. HIV discrimination is illegal in most California workplaces, just like discrimination based on diabetes or other health conditions. At the Nourmand Law Firm, our Los Angeles HIV discrimination lawyers may be able to help you recover damages.

Pursuing a Claim of HIV Discrimination

The primary federal laws that protect employees with HIV are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The primary state law that protects you in the workplace if you have HIV is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Usually FEHA provides greater protection in HIV discrimination cases than the ADA or the FMLA. FEHA applies to employers that have at least five employees, while the ADA applies to employers with at least 15 employees. The FMLA has even more restricted criteria, and your employer must have at least 50 employees to be covered.

FEHA prohibits disability discrimination, and disabilities include diseases or disfigurements that restrict major life activities and affect the body, such as HIV or AIDS. Under FEHA, your employer may also need to provide you with a reasonable accommodation if you have a medical condition related to HIV. An HIV discrimination attorney can advise Los Angeles residents on the form that this might take in their case. Your employer cannot argue that you present a danger to others because medical evidence shows that casual workplace contacts do not transmit HIV or AIDS.

What counts as HIV discrimination? Discrimination involves treating an employee adversely or less favorably than other employees due to his or her having a protected characteristic, such as a history of HIV or a medical condition related to HIV or AIDS that limits the employee. HIV discrimination could include an employer refusing to hire you because of your HIV status. It could also include your employer not allowing you to work, fearing that you will infect a coworker.

Discrimination could also include your employer refusing to allow you to miss work to go to a medical appointment or refusing to accommodate your need to take a short, reasonable leave. If you need a reasonable accommodation due to HIV, you can ask your employer to adjust or change its usual policies so that you can perform the essential job functions. Once you make a request, your employer is supposed to engage in a timely, good-faith interactive process to decide whether a reasonable accommodation allows the job applicant or employee to complete the necessary job functions. Reasonable accommodations could include a modification of your work schedule, allowing part-time work, restructuring, reassignment to a vacant position, adjustments to training, modifying work policies related to breaks, and more. An employer does not need to give you the precise accommodation that you request, and it can deny an accommodation if providing the accommodation would cause an undue hardship. Our Los Angeles HIV discrimination attorneys can help you argue that your proposed accommodation does not create an undue hardship.

Harassment based on a protected characteristic is treated as discrimination. Your employer is supposed to keep the medical records and medical information of its employees confidential. If your employer reveals your HIV status to coworkers without your permission or voluntary disclosure, it may have violated the law. Coworkers and supervisors who make frequent or very serious comments about your HIV status may be perpetrating workplace harassment. Once your employer knows that you are being harassed, it should take immediate and appropriate measures to protect you from being harassed.

An employer that fails to take such measures may be sued for hostile work environment harassment under FEHA. A hostile work environment is one that involves severe or pervasive harassment (discriminatory intimidation, insults, or ridicule) that alters the employment conditions and generates an abusive working environment for you as a person being harassed. In most cases, an ignorant or careless remark by a coworker will not be found to be severe or pervasive enough to be considered actionable harassment.

Consult an Experienced HIV Discrimination Lawyer in Los Angeles

If you are concerned about HIV discrimination, the Nourmand Law Firm may be able to assist you. We provide aggressive legal assistance to workers who have been harmed in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Van Nuys, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and other cities in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties. Call us at 800-700-WAGE (9243) or contact us through our online form.

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