Top Ten Tips Disclaimer
State the company's policy concerning equal access to employment for individuals with disabilities.
Explain that individuals with AIDS and others who are HIV-positive are individuals entitled to protection under state and federal laws against discrimination.
Make it clear that the company will treat employees with this disability as it would any other employee with a life-threatening disease.
Explain how the AIDS virus is transmitted.
State the ways in which the AIDS virus is not transmitted.
Where relevant, discuss company policy regarding medical exams and insurance coverage with respect to this virus.
State clearly that the company does not test for the AIDS virus.
Advise employees that the company will maintain in the strictest confidence all medical records of any employee with this disability. Employers should be aware of laws relating to persons with AIDS or those who are HIV positive. These individuals are considered disabled under both Texas and federal laws, and as such, are members of a protected class under anti-discrimination laws.
An employee handbook is a good way to advise employees that the company does not discriminate against such individuals. At the same time, the handbook may be used as a way to educate other employees about the disease and how it is transmitted. This could become very important if a worker is found to be carrying the virus.
Among the work force, the most common misperception about AIDS is the fear of casual transmission. AIDS is not casually transmitted.
According to the United States Surgeon General's Report, AIDS is not transmitted by:
-Mosquito or insect bites
-Sharing office supplies
-Drinking from the same cup
-Sharing rest room facilities
The typical business setting, excluding health care industries, poses no measurable risk for the contraction of the AIDS virus. According to all medical authorities, including the Surgeon General, AIDS is contracted by:
Intimate sexual contact
Exchange of blood products
Mother-to-infant contact during pregnancy or delivery.
Keep the most current medical information on AIDS available for employees. Local health departments can provide printed materials and will provide resources.
Employers should be extremely careful about confidentiality in this area. Employees should be told that revealing, disclosing, discussing, or otherwise communicating any information about the communicable diseases of third parties without authorization could subject them to both civil and criminal liability under Texas laws.
For a sample policy on medical information confidentiality, see the Appendix to this book.
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