Q. Is it legal to ask applicants medical questions, specifically, if they have HIV? Does the law allow any legal exceptions to ask this question of people applying for food-handling positions?” —S.S., California
A. Simply said, don't inquire about HIV. The ADA says you can't ask applicants questions that could reveal their disabilities. Also, scientific evidence shows that the possibility of transmitting HIV from a food handler to other employees or the public (assuming that certain safeguards are followed) is virtually nonexistent.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for maintaining a list of diseases that may be transmitted through food handling, doesn't include HIV on the list. The EEOC recently published a fact sheet, How to Comply with the ADA: A Guide for Restaurants, which can be found at www.eeoc.gov.