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Monday, September 12, 2016

Can My Employer Discriminate Against Me Because I am a Person Living with HIV?

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) specifically prohibits discrimination against persons living with AIDS and HIV status. The LAD prohibits discrimination because of atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, and mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status, as well as liability for military service, race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy), familial status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. 

Under the ADA, a person is considered to be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including major bodily functions such as the functions of the immune system; has a record of such an impairment; or has an actual or perceived mental or physical impairment that is not transitory and minor. Persons living with HIV, both asymptomatic and symptomatic, have physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities or major bodily functions and are  protected under the ADA. 

Therefore persons who are perceived as having HIV are also protected, even if they do not in fact have HIV because of the perception of disability. If you are fired because of a rumor that you are a person living with HIV, even you are not, you would be protected by the law under “perceived disability status”. 

Because both the LAD and ADA also protects against “associational disability”, if you are fired because someone with whom you are associated, such as a child, spouse, friend etc., is person who is rumored  to have AIDS or perceived to have some other disability, you may have a claim for associational disability discrimination.

New Jersey Plaintiffs who are the victims of associational disability employment discrimination do not have to first exhaust the lengthy administrative filing process that is required under the ADA, before they file a lawsuit. In New Jersey, they can file a claim directly for associational disability employment discrimination  in State Superior Court under the LAD.

What You Can Do

If you feel your employer is discriminating against you because of your association with someone who is disabled or is perceived to be disabled, it is important to consult with an aggressive and experienced employment attorney. If you complained about such discrimination, and your employer then retaliated against you, you may also have a claim for retaliation. If you believe you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination or retaliation, please contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.

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