Employees with HIV are protected from discrimination in employment several laws, and are guaranteed access to reasonable accommodations as a result of their condition.
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA, which covers employers of 15 or more people, applies to employment decisions at all stages. Court decisions have found that an individual with even asymptomatic HIV is protected under this law.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) addresses some of the barriers to healthcare facing people with HIV, as well as other vulnerable populations. HIPAA gives people with group coverage new protections from discriminatory treatment, makes it easier for small groups (such as businesses with a small number of employees) to obtain and keep health insurance coverage, and gives those losing/leaving group coverage new options for obtaining individual coverage.
- Family Medical Leave Act
- The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the work site. Eligible employees may take leave for serious medical conditions or to provide care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition, including HIV/AIDS. Eligible employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
- Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
- The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) allows employees to continue their health insurance coverage at their own expense for a period of time after their employment ends. For most employees ceasing work for health reasons, the period of time to which benefits may be extended ranges from 18 to 36 months.
Qualified individuals,, including people living with HIV, have the right to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace. A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for or perform a job. An accommodation may be tangible (for example, a certain type of chair) or intangible (for example, a modified work schedule for someone with a medical condition requiring regular appointments with a health care provider). You are qualified if you are able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.
Most employers require a doctor’s note to support the employee’s reasonable accommodation request. The note does not need to contain the employee’s diagnosis, just verify that the employee is the medical provider’s care and that he/she/they believe the employee needs the accommodation to maintain their health or to be able to fulfill essential functions of their job.