Queen's University IRC

AIDS and the Employment Relationship


Mary L. Halton

January 1, 1989

The increased incidence of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is beginning to have a significant impact in the workplace. Some unique employment issues are being raised because of two dimensions of the problem: first, the disease is fatal and to date there is no known cure; and second, as a result of the lack of knowledge about AIDS, a great deal of fear of transmission of the disease persists among other members of the workforce. Current legislation provides AIDS victims with some employment protection, but because of the ‘newness’ of the disease, and the myriad of uncertain and untested boundaries that exist to be challenged in the employment relationship in this area, there is still a need to clarify the issues and to define more clearly the protection that exists in all areas of the law. In particular, there is a need for consistent social and legislative policy to assist victims of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to be allowed to continue to participate fully in the labour force as long as they are able to continue. Attitudes, however, appear to present the largest barrier to a satisfactory employment relationship. These discriminatory attitudes must be changed through education and continued government intervention.

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