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Being Discriminated Against at Work?

Being Discriminated Against at Work?


There's help out there — and it doesn't have to cost you a thing.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against because of health factors or any other characteristic, it’s important to consult a lawyer if you can, says Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel for MALDEF. If you’re worried about the cost, many nonprofit organizations (such as MALDEF, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union) and legal aid clinics take on discrimination cases at little or no cost to the client. It’s also important to document when discrimination occurs—and if the discrimination involves a health condition, such as HIV, that’s covered under disability law, to document that your employer knew of your condition and the fact that you required accommodation on the job. Saenz suggests creating and keeping an email that documents all this and the dates involved.

Another tell of whether your company supports poz workers: Whether its CEO joined in a call to end HIV travel restrictions, calling them “bad for business.” More than 20 CEOs signed an unprecedented pledge urging the repeal of laws and policies in 46 countries that still deport, detain, or deny entry to people solely because they are living with HIV. They represented companies including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Heineken, Merck, Gilead, Virgin, Kenneth Cole, OraSure, Aetna, and the NBA.

“HIV travel restrictions are discriminatory and bad for business,” said Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss and Co., who launched the CEO petition along with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and GBCHealth, a coalition of companies that address global health challenges. “Global business leaders are coming together to make sure we end these unreasonable restrictions.” 
Bergh and others argued that HIV travel restrictions are a hindrance in today’s globalized economy because companies must be able to send their employees and best talent overseas, regardless of their HIV status. “Travel restrictions on individuals with HIV are unnecessary and hinder the ability for individuals and companies to operate in a truly global workforce,” said Mark Bertolini, chairman, CEO, and president of Aetna. 
Of course, none of this helped Andrew at his old company, nor Noah Crawford, who said he wasn’t hired by Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits in Longview, Texas, despite his many qualifications, because he was poz. Then again, Crawford got $25,000 from that company in a settlement of his lawsuit, and a taxi driver in Florida is getting a fat check from the biggest taxi company that serves Disney World (details of the settlement weren’t disclosed). So as smart companies court people with HIV and stupid ones get fined for discrimination, perhaps we can build a world where HIV-positive workers aren’t just tolerated but celebrated for their unique contributions to the workplace.
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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