Can You Fire an Employee with HIV?

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December is not only for Christmas. It’s also World Awareness Month. Now is the best time to talk a growing question among employers: can you fire someone with HIV?

When you’re facing a discrimination lawsuit from someone with the illness, you can request arbitration and mediation services. The conflict can stem from misunderstanding.

It also helps if you are aware of what the law or data says about discrimination in the workplace. You can begin your education with these FAQs.

Can Someone Spread HIV in the Workplace?

HIV affects more than a million people in the United States, according to HIV.org. About 1 in every seven people is also not aware they have it. This disease also has the following modes of transmission:

  • Sexual contact without proper protection
  • Transfusion of blood infection with the virus
  • Sharing of infected needles
  • Mother to the child including through breastmilk

No person with HIV can spread it with their saliva, touch, and sharing of utensils. They also need to have a significant viral load to be infectious to someone. The answer to the question is no.

Are HIV Employees Mandated to Reveal Their Status to a Manager?

The answer is also no. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealing they have the illness is a deeply personal choice.

Employers have a responsibility once a worker decides to share their diagnosis. People living with HIV often face discrimination in and out of their workplace.

It then becomes your duty to create a harmonious environment for everyone. It can entail:

  • Creating anti-discrimination policies to protect these individuals
  • Educating through workshops, seminars, and conferences
  • Not separating a person with HIV from the rest of the employees

Note, though, that the employer and employee can discuss reasonable accommodation. This refers to adjustments or modifications on behalf of the worker to ensure they can still perform their job correctly despite their illness or situation.

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Can You Choose to Terminate an Employee with HIV?

It depends on the reason for termination. People living with HIV are protected against discrimination through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law provides three situations when termination is legal:

  • The reason for the termination doesn’t relate to their disability.
  • They didn’t meet the company’s work standards (e.g., poor performance or productivity).
  • Disability becomes a threat to other employees or the company’s customers.

Is It Okay to Request a Person with HIV to Undergo a Health Test?

The answer is no if the reason for doing so is discriminatory. As mentioned, the patient decides to reveal their status. It might be okay if you let everyone undergo the same test or if this process is routine in the company.

Even if the results say they’re positive, employers still cannot divulge such information due to confidentiality rules. Many companies in the United States are making progress in protecting the rights of people with HIV. Discrimination, however, remains a common issue.

When you find yourself committing this mistake, talk with the employee, and let an expert help you correct it with mediation or arbitration. If you’re planning to do it, hopefully, these questions will help you make the right decision.

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