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Author Topic: Discrimination/Stigma  (Read 654 times)

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Offline Wero

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Discrimination/Stigma
« on: November 30, 2018, 11:29:37 am »
So I'm curious to know if anyone has encountered any problems at their workplace due to revealing their hiv status. 

Several months ago, I had revealed my hiv status to a co-worker that I thought I could trust.  We had a good working relationship and I never thought it would be used against me.  I casually mentioned that I had to go to the doctor on my day off, and he asked what was wrong with me, and I revealed my status (a huge mistake I will NEVER make again). 


This coworker has been looking to transfer to another location, so he turned my orientation and hiv status against me, and made some serious allegations about me making advances towards him.  I kept asking my immediate supervisor what was going on and he said he didn't know, but that my coworker had gone to HR so it was out of his hands.  A few weeks later, he found out that it was because my coworker had made accusations about me, and didn't feel comfortable working with me because of that and because I was hiv positive. 


So 8 weeks pass by, and still nobody formally approaches me, and in the meantime I keep asking my immediate manager about the false accusations, and telling him that I would appreciate someone from HR contacting me since the allegations were ABOUT me.  Nothing.  I finally wrote a letter to my manager's manager giving my concerns and absolute denial of all accusations, and further indicating that this employee was using me as a scapegoat to get his transfer.  I also included in this email that I felt as if the company was facilitating a work atmosphere that allowed for the discrimination based on sexual orientation and hiv status by NOT bringing the accusations to my attention and letting me voice my concerns and to further deny all allegations. 


This email, which I'm assuming got forwarded to HR,  got an immediate response from the HR person doing the investigation.  His response was that there was no grounds for further investigation, and that's why they did not contact me.  He also assured me that the company did not discriminate and he wanted me to feel comfortable at work.  The problem is, I don't feel comfortable because the company has allowed this individual to make false accusations and has moved this individual to a different work location....not yet to where he wants to go, but it's been said that he will be there by the first of the year. 


I understand the company is required to investigate any and all reports of harrassment or accusations of such, but I really have issue with a company that supposedly supports a non-discriminatory work place to allow individuals to make false accusations and just move on.  This creates an atmosphere where any homophobic individual can just make accusations to not have to work with lgbq individuals.  I feel like once an accusation of this nature is made, it will always be a derogatory mark against me.  I obviously don't want this individual near me, but the boy who cries wolf gets what he wants, and walks away with no repurcussions, while I had to deal with this crap of not knowing, and worrying about having a job?  Most states are at will states, and employers can fire you for no reason at all, so what's to keep an employee from making false accusations, you getting fired, and no repurcussions to the false accuser?  I want to believe my employer when they say they want me to be comfortable at the workplace, but actions speak louder than words.  Are they discriminating?  I mean to not even contact me until I wrote a letter speaking up for my concerns?

It's bad enough to deal with the stigma of being gay and hiv positive in a small town, but then these kind of accusations are just too much.

Offline CaveyUK

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2018, 02:14:40 pm »
Sorry to hear about your situation. Workplace law is different in different regions so I can't talk specifically about that, but I'm curious about one aspect of this...

I fully get why you were mad at the colleague who made the allegations, however it's not clear if your status has subsequently been revealed further by anyone else in the organisation?

Regarding that person - he has been moved away, which regardless of your views on his motivation in the first place, is good news, right?

Unfortunately, disclosing to anyone does pop the genie out of the bottle and you lose control, and in this instance the person you disclosed to voluntarily used it against you. That sucks, but it wasn't necessarily a breach of privacy from the company and I can perhaps understand why HR can't do much about it now, because in their eyes it could be one word against another. Not what you want to hear, I know.

So given that HR are aware of your status, and your manager is, then the key is if THEY are disclosing further, or - if your status is now widely known in the company, whether you are receiving any ongoing discrimintation.

If you are, then I'm sure (legal jurisdictions permitting) there would be a case against the company based on employment discrimination law.

If you are not, and there is just a festering feeling of betrayal and anger at your co-worker who has since moved on, then it's quite understandable for you to feel that way but probably not much you can do, so the best thing to do may be to erase him from your mind and not waste any more of your life worrying about someone who doesn't deserve your time.

As I said, I do feel for you though. It's a shitty situation.

For me, I'm not disclosing to anyone at work. I don't think there is any advantage in me doing so, and whilst I'm sure things would be fine (and many people are open about it with their workplace without problems), I just think it would make me super paranoid and every time someone acted like an arsehole towards me I'd be thinking 'is it because....'


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Offline fabio

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2018, 09:58:35 pm »
Well,it's really difficult saying anything to anyone. A big gamble. I use my one day off a month to go to my doc as well,which sucks hehe. I wouldn't really tell people why I have to go to the doc or anything,I just don't see how it's any of their business (I work as a lifeguard in the summer in a water park).
It's these reveals that scare me a lot. I only have told my parents ,my brother and my best friend. Thankfully my best friend was willing to listen to the whole u=u and not panic about touching me or being close to me.
As of colleagues I would never tell them,I don't think they are people you want personal bonds with. I also live in a small place (island) and word gets fast,so I try to keep to myself,even around other gay people.

Offline Jackmydin

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2018, 01:31:47 am »
I feel you. The stigma is not something easy to battle with. Even recently I tried convince my parents that u=u and if chances allow, I could even have my own family without worrying any transmission to people I love, provided I take my med and maintain undetectable. But they still couldn't believe it all and question on the "what if" situation. The risk of transmission is less than 1%!

Offline fabio

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 02:46:57 am »
My parents come from a very  conservative background and I didn't expect they would still care about me. Sure,they had their weird phase at first,but my mom (who recently learned of Google,lol) got to search about the subject and feel less frightened and more understanding. My father,weird as it seems,didn't care at all he always told me when I was down "you're gonna work,study and live a normal life" with a very surprising confidence. He also took me to work with him hehe (he paints houses) in an attempt to take my mind off of the "impending doom",and it worked. I reevaluated my condition and won't let it dictate my life. That's the point of taking my meds every day,to remind myself that I am in control.
Personally I always took gambles. Sometimes they are fatal,sometimes they bring me joy. All I know is that I took my chances and tried.
Even if your parents/friends/colleagues feel like your a threat to their wellbeing,then they don't deserve you. You know who you are and you know your story.
And don't forget we are all here for you,because if we ain't a team,then what the hell are we hahaha. 😉😉😉

Offline Wero

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 04:33:19 am »
Sorry to hear about your situation. Workplace law is different in different regions so I can't talk specifically about that, but I'm curious about one aspect of this...

I fully get why you were mad at the colleague who made the allegations, however it's not clear if your status has subsequently been revealed further by anyone else in the organisation?

Regarding that person - he has been moved away, which regardless of your views on his motivation in the first place, is good news, right?

Unfortunately, disclosing to anyone does pop the genie out of the bottle and you lose control, and in this instance the person you disclosed to voluntarily used it against you. That sucks, but it wasn't necessarily a breach of privacy from the company and I can perhaps understand why HR can't do much about it now, because in their eyes it could be one word against another. Not what you want to hear, I know.

So given that HR are aware of your status, and your manager is, then the key is if THEY are disclosing further, or - if your status is now widely known in the company, whether you are receiving any ongoing discrimintation.

If you are, then I'm sure (legal jurisdictions permitting) there would be a case against the company based on employment discrimination law.

If you are not, and there is just a festering feeling of betrayal and anger at your co-worker who has since moved on, then it's quite understandable for you to feel that way but probably not much you can do, so the best thing to do may be to erase him from your mind and not waste any more of your life worrying about someone who doesn't deserve your time.

As I said, I do feel for you though. It's a shitty situation.

For me, I'm not disclosing to anyone at work. I don't think there is any advantage in me doing so, and whilst I'm sure things would be fine (and many people are open about it with their workplace without problems), I just think it would make me super paranoid and every time someone acted like an arsehole towards me I'd be thinking 'is it because....'

Hello CaveyUK, and thanks for your response.  My employer was already aware of my status as when dx, I had to take an emergency week's vacation, and because of the type of work I do, I felt it necessary for them to know.  So honestly, it's not the disclosure that bothers me as much as the fact that one person can make accusations that another made advances, just to get moved to where they want to be.  This, imo, allows and homophobic person to discriminate against any gay, bi, or lesbian individual.  To me, it's worse than refusing to work with any homosexual, it's lying about the reason why they don't want to work with people who's sexual orientation they don't agree with. 

I talked to my shrink about it today, and I already know the answer which she re-confirmed, I just need to let it go.  I just don't like the fact that if we all just let it go, that the discrimination just continues.  We're in the year 2018 going on 2019, and to be discriminated against based on orientation, or to be falsely accused of making sexual advances just because a person is gay, it's not right.  But I know, let it go....and yes, I'm mostly away from this individual, but he relieves me on my day off so because of this situation, he does a shitty job which I have to clean up after being off for a day or two.  I wish they would just remove him from the situation all together...I think it would help immensely in moving ahead...I boil every time I have to fix what he's fkd up....

Offline Wero

  • Member
  • Posts: 8
Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2018, 04:42:44 am »
My parents come from a very  conservative background and I didn't expect they would still care about me. Sure,they had their weird phase at first,but my mom (who recently learned of Google,lol) got to search about the subject and feel less frightened and more understanding. My father,weird as it seems,didn't care at all he always told me when I was down "you're gonna work,study and live a normal life" with a very surprising confidence. He also took me to work with him hehe (he paints houses) in an attempt to take my mind off of the "impending doom",and it worked. I reevaluated my condition and won't let it dictate my life. That's the point of taking my meds every day,to remind myself that I am in control.
Personally I always took gambles. Sometimes they are fatal,sometimes they bring me joy. All I know is that I took my chances and tried.
Even if your parents/friends/colleagues feel like your a threat to their wellbeing,then they don't deserve you. You know who you are and you know your story.
And don't forget we are all here for you,because if we ain't a team,then what the hell are we hahaha. 😉😉😉


Fabio, I LOVE your story because it's so much like mine.  I expected my mom to be fully accepting and my dad to be the one who had issues.  My Mom, at first, exploded, and my Dad was like yea, whatever, let's go fishing lol.  I'm still, to this day, not sure what happened to change my Mom, whether it was google lol or a friend of hers, or my Dad, but the next day she was totally accepting.  One day I will ask her what happened that night, but honestly I don't care.  We are blessed to have families that are supportive because I know several people who have been basically disowned by fam.  I like your philosophy of taking your meds, knowing it puts you in control, and I'm the same as taking chances.  But I've got to say, I will be MUCH MUCH more cautious on who I disclose to in the future.  I still struggle with this, and it's kept me away from dental care, which I desperately need.  I fear, living in rural America, of disclosing to small town dentist, but I don't think it's right (and maybe not even legal?) to not let a dentist know I'm poz.  Thanks for your reply Fabio, and the best to your future!

Offline fabio

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  • Posts: 167
Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2018, 03:11:46 pm »
I'm very happy you too have family that does support you. It all becomes a little easier knowing the people who birthed you love you no.matter what.
Ugh! The dentist thing haha. Is it illegal to nog disclose your status on the dentist? I mean,he should practice general hygiene and sterilizing technicks to not out others in danger. Also u are undetectable,why should you worry?
Of course I know as well the dangers of living in a small town (in my case a Greek island). People talk a lot and you have to be a character all the time.
Anyways,thank you so much for being in general. You can't imagine how much courage and happiness I get by talking to people that go through the same thing as us. 💚

Offline JimDublin

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Re: Discrimination/Stigma
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2018, 03:58:36 am »
Hi Wero,

Sorry to hear that you had this complaint from a co-worker sent to HR and, how the investigation has made you feel. I can understand your feelings, and I've been fired ... well placed on "Garden Leave" in the past for my HIV status and than re-hired.

There is of course the run of the mill complaints HR deal with often not known or visible to all,  and just looking back at the companies I worked for not a month went by that someone would not complain about someone else on all kinds of grounds and they still do. Exhausting at times, as always the motivations differ, some are genuine and others are suspected of not being so genuine. That said perhaps this person genuinely did not feel comfortable working with you, end of the day that's their problem and it sound like  your HR has come to the same conclusion.

Quote
I kept asking my immediate supervisor what was going on and he said he didn't know, but that my coworker had gone to HR so it was out of his hands.  A few weeks later, he found out that it was because my coworker had made accusations about me, and didn't feel comfortable working with me because of that and because I was hiv positive. 

To be honest i don't think your supervisor should not have told you about an ongoing investigation. Its not helpful and does not add any value, most complaints simply fizzle out without any action and HR coming to the conclusion all by themselves that the complaint is not actionable or simply the problem of the person making the complaint in the first place.

Quote
I understand the company is required to investigate any and all reports of harrassment or accusations of such, but I really have issue with a company that supposedly supports a non-discriminatory work place to allow individuals to make false accusations and just move on.  This creates an atmosphere where any homophobic individual can just make accusations to not have to work with lgbq individuals.  I feel like once an accusation of this nature is made, it will always be a derogatory mark against me.  I obviously don't want this individual near me, but the boy who cries wolf gets what he wants, and walks away with no repurcussions, while I had to deal with this crap of not knowing, and worrying about having a job?  Most states are at will states, and employers can fire you for no reason at all, so what's to keep an employee from making false accusations, you getting fired, and no repurcussions to the false accuser?  I want to believe my employer when they say they want me to be comfortable at the workplace, but actions speak louder than words.  Are they discriminating?  I mean to not even contact me until I wrote a letter speaking up for my concerns?

It's bad enough to deal with the stigma of being gay and hiv positive in a small town, but then these kind of accusations are just too much.

It might be untrue that you did something wrong, but it could well be true that the person making the complaint genuinely felt & feels this way.

Quote
I feel like once an accusation of this nature is made, it will always be a derogatory mark against me.
The outcome was HR looked into the complaint and there was no grounds for further investigation, and that's why they did not contact you so there is no employment impact and like I said HR probably deal with frivolous complaints in your company about people all the time so its not uncommon, and does not reflect on you. If you have doubts ask and talk to HR about how you feel the investigation impacted you and I am certain that if its a decent company they will tell you the same.

Quote
so what's to keep an employee from making false accusations, you getting fired, and no repurcussions to the false accuser?

Well most companies I worked for despite laws or lack of laws will mostly have a "No retaliation" policy or clause in the complaints process towards employees who file reports this whether accusations are true or false, as they want people to come forward if they feel there is a problem so it can be investigated and to prevent victimization and other retaliatory behavior towards the employee making the complaint.

Anyhow I hope you can rebuilt the trust in the workplace, perhaps worth talking to the supervisor on your one to one about how this has investigation has left you feeling?

Take it easy

Jim 




« Last Edit: December 03, 2018, 04:01:39 am by JimDublin »
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