If Ihad a friend that was fired because his employer found out he had hepititusC, is that legal or not?

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If Ihad a friend that was fired because his employer found out he had hepititusC, is that legal or not?

I had a friend who got a job working on a farm. The employer found out he had hepatitis C. He told him he could not continue working for him cause he was worried about the other employees contracting it. Is that legal or does he have a discrimination case or not?

Asked on January 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your friend almost certainly does not have a discrimination case. First, while an employer cannot discriminate against disabled employees, not all illness or conditions are disabilities under the law; to be a disability, it must have a pervasive impact on the ability to do life functions, which hep C would not seem to. Typical examples of disabilities include impaired vision, heart conditions that prevent someone from exerting him- or herself, or muscular or nervous conditions affecting balance, strength, or coordination.

Second, even if hep C were considered a disability for this purpose, an employer is only required to provide "reasonable accomodations," which are adjustments or assistive technology which is not too expensive or disruptive. An employer does not have to employ someone who cannot safely do the job. It is likely unsafe to have someone with hep C working on a farm, in close proximity to raw food, since he/she can pose a risk to many other people--and to the farmer's livilihood, if it gets out that the farm has employees with hep C.


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