It’s a frightening notion to think that you could be dismissed from your job–or denied the possibility of employment–for being sick. Or simply for having a preference in lifestyle weighed down with decades of misunderstandings and assumptions.

However, there are legal protections in line to prevent discrimination from employers–either present or would-be–on the matter of sexual preference, lifestyle choices and medical status.

Discrimination vs. Lifestyle

As recently as 2017, the Federal Court judged that discrimination by an employer on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation or lifestyle choices–provided no federal laws are being broken–is illegal. An employee’s lifestyle is not the business of the employer provided that all activities take place off the clock.

Despite the fears that many people have about their lifestyle affecting their ability to become employed, the public view is changing. Even Fortune 500 companies are changing their regulations to protect employees, current and prospective, from discrimination based on their lifestyle or sexual orientation.

Discrimination and Health

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals that are HIV positive or have AIDS are protected against discrimination either from current employers or by prospective employers. Although employees being fired due to HIV positive status, such as the event fictionalized in the movie “Philadelphia,” isn’t unknown, strides have been taken to ensure that people have legal recourse to take. Those events took the first step in ensuring that people were treated fairly regardless of their health or their lifestyle choices.

This also means that it’s beneficial for people to know their HIV status as well as look into confidential STD testing for their overall health. With new advances in medication, such as the PrEP pill that can prevent HIV transmission, and widely available support programs, HIV status is no longer the deterrent that it once was.

Is Any Discrimination Legal?

Private employers may claim a certain amount of leeway from the federal government about discrimination practices. However, a few basic facts remain. It is illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their sexual orientation, medical status or lifestyle choices.

What a person does on their own time, provided it doesn’t break federal laws, is their own business. An employer has no right to require certain behavior from an employee when that employee is not on the clock. And any employer that does take action against an employee for their sexual orientation or lifestyle choices is risking legal action. Your personal time is your own, and your personal life choices are the business of nobody but yourself.

 

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