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Author Topic: HIV status and employment  (Read 835 times)

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Offline CokeZero

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  • Posts: 17
HIV status and employment
« on: August 12, 2014, 01:13:28 AM »
Hi guys; I am a newly positive person and would love to hear your opinion about employment and protection of my confidentiality. As a newly HIV positive individual I learned how employers are forbidden to ask about HIV status when considering an employment of a person. I have also learned that health insurance and disability companies are also forbidden to ask you about your HIV status if you are getting your insurance within a group (my company hires thousands of individuals and I get my health insurance and disability through them) and only if you are looking for an individual policy can they ask you by law about your status or make you test yourself. Well there is a detail that confuses me. Although most papers that I fill every single year for my health and disability benefits do not ask me about my HIV status (they just ask about AIDS or other immune compromising condition) they somehow always find the way to put the questions about your medications. On those papers I am specifically asked to state if there are any prescription medication that I have been taking and of course at the end I need to sign the papers stating that everything I answered is truth and nothing but the truth. So although they are not supposed to ask me by law about my HIV status they kinda do!!!. So what do I choose - well for now to lie. You should not be asking me about my status directly or indirectly. Of course I am taking anti-retro-viral medication every single day but if I disclose that then I have just disclosed my status. And the law tell me it is no one's business and that I have the right to protect my privacy by not disclosing my status. Am I breaking the law myself now by stating that I have been taking no medication? On one hand law gives me the right not to disclose my status but on the other I am required to truthfully admit the medications that I have been taking on a daily basis.
Now just to make myself perfectly clear; I have no intention of lying to my health insurance company; there is no point in doing that at all because eventually somebody will submit them bills for my tests and treatment. I have even personally called my current health insurance company and they assured me that they would never disclose my status to my current employer. So once again, I have no issue in them knowing my HIV positive status. The problem that I have now is: before my new company submits the papers to the health insurance company I need to fill those papers which then go to human resources and their health department for review before going to health insurance company. And that's where the people within the company will figure out my status.
I would really appreciate if anyone who experienced this type of issues could help me and give me an answer as what what they did in that type of situation. As always appreciate your suggestions.

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2014, 04:34:56 AM »
HIV is an immune compromising infection, isn't it, even if successfully controlled? I guess a matter of semantics....  Seems to me they shouldn't be able to ask that, nor for specific drugs... I mean wtf. 
I would ask a very knowledgeable labour lawyer what to do, if I were in your shoes.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline JR Gabbard

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Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2014, 08:13:44 AM »
Howdy CZ!
Your instinct is correct; don't lie on any insurance document.  That will come back to bite you.
Also, don't worry about HR sifting through your health information.  They are usually too busy to do anything but check to make sure you signed it.  If some clerk does happen to figure things out, they wouldn't be able to tell anyone without violating your HIPPA privacy rights.  So your boss would never find out, unless you told him.
Everyone you trust with your health information has a duty to protect that information.  That means HR, the insurance company, your pharmacy, clinic, hospital, doctors, nurses and support staff.   These groups can share your information between themselves (for treatment purposes) but cannot disclose your information to anyone else without your written consent.
Hope that helps!
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah!

L. Cohen

Offline OneTampa

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Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2014, 10:16:19 AM »
CZ and JR this thread is helpful to me as well given my somewhat similar situation: http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=55218.0

Thanks.
"He is my oldest child. The shy and retiring one over there with the Haitian headdress serving pescaíto frito."

Offline CokeZero

  • Member
  • Posts: 17
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2014, 11:50:06 PM »
Thank you guys. From all that I have read on web and from your responses here it seems I have no other options but just to put the antiretroviral medication I am taking on the paper and just hope that it won't trigger someone in human resources to notice it and then question my ability/disability to work. If that happens, well in that case, I will just hope for the best.

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2014, 08:55:51 AM »
Thank you guys. From all that I have read on web and from your responses here it seems I have no other options but just to put the antiretroviral medication I am taking on the paper and just hope that it won't trigger someone in human resources to notice it and then question my ability/disability to work. If that happens, well in that case, I will just hope for the best.
Despite what people may have said here, your writing down your HIV medicine on an HR form seems to be a violation of your privacy. It seems to be an invitation for discrimination even though "they are not allowed to discriminate and disclose this information past their own HR eyes."   
Faced with a similar question, I made damn sure I got the answer from a lawyer.  Note I do not live in the USA. 
Here (switzerland) the answer to probing questions similar to the one you are faced with - is "yes" with no details and then the entire issue is removed from the company and sent to a kind of state level "surgeon general" who does get the real facts in the medical file and then can ONLY communicate to the company - yes this person can do the job or this person needs this or that accommodation or this person cannot do this job...  The company NEVER sees the details as to why.
I would be extremely wary of writing down my HIV medications on that form and would only do so after checking with a GOOD LAWYER that I am legally required to do so.
Maybe the lie of omission is within your rights here.  I don't know.  Ask a lawyer.

Can you afford to hire a lawyer to ask this question? 
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Dan0

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Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2014, 12:52:46 PM »
Thank you guys. From all that I have read on web and from your responses here it seems I have no other options but just to put the antiretroviral medication I am taking on the paper and just hope that it won't trigger someone in human resources to notice it and then question my ability/disability to work. If that happens, well in that case, I will just hope for the best.

MOST larger corporations are very in-tune with HIPPA and ADA regulations and actively do what they can to shield themselves from any legal recourse.  Most of the insurance documents never get dissected by someone in HR - they just forward them along - and at no point can I envision someone from HR (unless they are absolutely stupid) sharing any of this information with the hiring management. 

Where I work, At most, there can be some physical testing prior to an interview process - and the testing would have to apply to ALL applicants.  If you are going to work in a physically demanding job where you are lifting all day, for example, all the candidates who made the initial screening could be required to go to for an exertion test.  Not one or two - but ALL of them. You can't be singled out. In my experience -  when they come in for the interview it is a completely blank slate with the only information provided from HR being the resume and application.

As for HIV disclosure - a few acquaintences recently hired on at my business and filled out the requisite forms for insurance, which asked some similar questions. For all I know, it could be a standard form or the same carrier. Not sure.  At any rate, they filled it out truthfully and after four months haven't heard anything back, have their insurance implemented and prescriptions being sent.  Not that this will happen everywhere with everyone but the laws are very precise.
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.

"Honey, you should never ask advice from a drunk drag queen who has a show to do." - JG

06/2002 DX
10/2006 Atripla UD
10/2013 Stribild Still UD

Offline JR Gabbard

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Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2014, 03:27:17 PM »
Thank you guys. From all that I have read on web and from your responses here it seems I have no other options but just to put the antiretroviral medication I am taking on the paper and just hope that it won't trigger someone in human resources to notice it and then question my ability/disability to work. If that happens, well in that case, I will just hope for the best.

If someone in HR were to take some action against you based on disclosures you made on an insurance form, you march right down and get yourself the best employment law specialist in town, because you would have one heck of a lawsuit.  The set for life kind.  That's how serious, and how clear a violation of law, it is.
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah!

L. Cohen

Offline mecch

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  • Posts: 12,166
  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2014, 04:24:50 PM »
My concern was - where does the "form" in question with the probing question -  come from - and where does it go? Is it from the HR Office? Does it go to the HR Office?
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline CokeZero

  • Member
  • Posts: 17
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2014, 01:59:17 AM »
Thank you mecch
The questions that you have just posed in your last thread summarizes my concerns: "Where does the form comes from and where does it go?". Only God knows that. I am a physician and, I don't know how it works in other professions, but every single time you get employed by a new hospital/physician group you get millions, and I am not kidding, millions of papers to fill out for all kinds of stuff, few of which are medical papers for insurance, benefits, disability and so on and so on.... But as you pointed out yourself, with the bureaucracy you have no clue where the papers are going, who is reading them, who is responsible for handling it. If God forbids my status get publicly disclosed because somebody broke the law, I am not sure you would even be able to trace down who was handling the papers in the first place - that's the bureaucracy we are all concerned about. I don't want to lie, because I feel if you lie once they will always use that against you to prove that you were unethical, not trust worthy and in the worse case scenario that you tried to commit a fraud. I don't want to break the law and then ruin my career even further. I really want to do everything by the book but I just don't understand how the law can protect my privacy about HIV status non disclosure in one hand but then at the same time require me to put down all my daily meds that I have been taking and even more, ask me to put my signature at the bottom of the paper swearing under the oath that I am telling the truth. Even a few legal counselors that I have asked were not in agreement as to what the best thing would be to do. I just feel completely lost. A few threads that I have read on this forum, written by other nurses and physicians, imply that they have not disclosed their statuses but I still don't know whether that was a legal thing to do or they are just taking their chances in hope that they would never get caught.  I have never thought that my biggest concern after having tested positive will not be of medical nature but all the rest. (isn't life a bitch). Once again thank you all so much for taking your time to provide me with your suggestions. I truly appreciate it.

Offline mecch

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  • Posts: 12,166
  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: HIV status and employment
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2014, 03:27:26 AM »
Did you pay those "legal counsellors"? 
My advice would be to hire an attorney to advise you.  And furthermore I think once you take an attorneys advice that what you might do IS legal - perhaps that protects you from an unlikely future claim that you attempted to commit fraud.
I know if a certified Tax attorney tells one what to do about tax deductions, it lessons ones liability somewhat with state tax collectors if they claim the action was a purposeful attempt at fraud.  Perhaps it is the same with employment.  I dunno. 

I suggest expert, paid, employment lawyer, that has your best interest and career at heart and not relying simply on "what is supposed to happen" bureaucratically... 
I worked for a year in HR legal affairs for a huge bank - so on the other side, and corporations have their lawyers so why shouldn't you?  You know it might turn out that, since as you say, there are so very many forms, they really don't have the right to be asking that specific question, and nobody has caught it.  IF that form is coming from the hospital, and not discreetly from the insurance company....

Besides the attorney might tell you to fill out the form, and then if that bites you, could represent you because obviously you can't be discriminated against legally.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 03:33:28 AM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

 


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