Can we ask about an applicant’s HIV status? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we ask about an applicant’s HIV status?

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Q. Is it legal to ask medical questions of applicants—specifically, if they have HIV? Does the law allow any legal exceptions to ask this question of people applying for food-handling positions?

A. No, it is not legal to ask an applicant if he or she has HIV. Before making a job offer, employers are prohibited from making any disability-related inquiries.

After making a conditional offer of employment, employers may ask disability-related questions provided that they do so for all applicants in the same job category and that they keep any medical information confidential.

Employers in the food-service business may ask applicants if they have a disease transmissible through food (such as salmonella or hepatitis A) only after making a contingent offer of employment.

The diseases about which an employer may inquire differ under state law. However, because there is no medical evidence that HIV can be transmitted through food handling, a food service employer may not specifically ask an applicant if he or she has HIV.

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