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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Is Refusing to Hire Someone with HIV Disability Discrimination?

By Dan Atkerson on February 22, 2016

Doctor signing noteAlthough it doesn’t get the same kind of media scare it once did, HIV is still a problem today. It is also widely misunderstood still, as many people and employers would willfully discriminate against a person due to their health.

The short answer to the question asked above is “Yes,” but HIV disability discrimination is more often a product of ignorance due to a failure to educate the public than it is about hatred. Regardless of the excuse, however, it is still disability discrimination, and therefore against federal law.

An Example of HIV Disability Discrimination

A recent example of this can be seen in Sanford, North Carolina, where a man applied for a job as a server at Yesterday’s Pub & Grille. The man says that when he interviewed with the owner, he was asked about his medical discharge from the military. That’s when he told the pub owner about his immunodeficiency.

The owner allegedly told him to start work the next day, but when the plaintiff arrived, he says the owner pushed him for more answers about his immunodeficiency. After some interrogation, the plaintiff revealed that he was HIV positive.

Despite providing evidence that proves he could work in the food industry with HIV, a proven fact that many do not know or will not accept, the job offer was withdrawn. The owner refused to hire him due to his health, which is a blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The owner is no doubt arguing that his right to hire “at-will” allows him to refuse to hire this man, but that is no excuse for workplace discrimination. Not hiring a person due to their health, so long as they can perform the required duty with reasonable accommodation, is the definition of disability discrimination.

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