EEOC Issues Guidance about HIV-Positive Employees’ Human and Health-Related Rights Under ADA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued two publications that explain how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees who are HIV-positive.
The first publication, Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights In the Workplace Under the ADA, is directed at HIV-positive job applicants themselves. The second publication, Helping Patients with HIV Infection Who Need Accommodation at Work, educates health care professionals who treat HIV-positive patients about the ADA and how they can help their patients obtain reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Before these publications were issued, only a questions-and-answers sheet8 was available, which gave general guidance on how the ADA applies to people who are HIV-positive. The current publications more clearly address the specifics of obtaining reasonable accommodations for people who are HIV-positive, and what is generally covered. The publications each specifically mention altered break and work schedules, accommodations for visual impairments, ergonomic seating, and other accommodations that are necessary due to the health impact of HIV, another condition that now exists because of HIV, or the side effects of medication designed to treat the disease. The publications describe how HIV can create a broad variety of possible symptoms and, therefore, accommodations may differ for each person.
The specifics in each publication address the most likely questions different target audiences would ask. Living with HIV infection describes, for example, the need for a job applicant to disclose their condition if they are requesting an accommodation, and Helping Patients with HIV explains how health care providers can communicate with someone’s employer if they require a reasonable accommodation at work. For example, the health care provider can describe the person’s health condition as an immune disorder if the person does not want their HIV status disclosed.