Other questions and answers on HIV-Related Laws. Also see our pages on HIV/AIDS Discrimination and Testing and Privacy.

What does it mean that an employer may have to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for an employee with a disability?

Persons with disabilities, such as HIV/AIDS, may experience health-related problems that make it difficult to meet some job requirements or duties. For example, a person may be exhausted or fatigued and find it difficult to work a full-time schedule.

In certain circumstances, the employer has an obligation to modify or adjust job requirements or workplace policies in order to enable a person with a disability, such as HIV or AIDS, to perform the job duties. This is known as a “reasonable accommodation.”

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying or changing job tasks or responsibilities;
  • Establishing a part-time or modified work schedule;
  • Permitting time off during regular work hours for medical appointments;
  • Reassigning an employee to a vacant job; or
  • Making modifications to the physical layout of a job site or acquiring devices such as a telephone amplifier to allow, for example, a person with a hearing impairment to do the job.

How can a person get a reasonable accommodation?

It is, with rare exception, the employee’s responsibility to initiate the request for an accommodation. In addition, an employer may request that an employee provide some information about the nature of the disability. Employees with concerns about disclosing HIV/AIDS status to a supervisor should contact GLAD Answers.

There is no fixed set of accommodations that an employee may request. The nature of a requested accommodation will depend on the particular needs of an individual employee’s circumstances.

Does an employer have to grant a request for a reasonable accommodation?

No, an employer is not obligated to grant each and every request for an accommodation. An employer does not have to grant a reasonable accommodation that will create an “undue burden” (i.e., significant difficulty or expense for the employer’s operation). In addition, the employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation if the employee cannot perform the job function even with the reasonable accommodation.

When is a “reasonable accommodation” for an employee an “undue burden” for an employer?

In determining whether a requested accommodation creates an undue burden or hardship for an employer, courts examine a number of factors, which include:

  • The employer’s size, budget and financial constraints;
  • The costs of implementing the requested accommodation; and
  • How the accommodation affects or disrupts the employer’s business.

Again, each situation is examined on a case-by-case basis.

An employer only has an obligation to grant the reasonable accommodation if, as a result of the accommodation, the employee is then qualified to perform the essential job duties. An employer does not have to hire or retain an employee who cannot perform the essential functions of the job, even with a reasonable accommodation.

Can a physician in Maine require an HIV test as a prerequisite for treatment?

No, a health care provider may not deny treatment or care based on the refusal to consent to HIV testing.

What are Maine laws regarding the purchase and possession of needles?

Under Maine law, a person who is 18 years of age or older may purchase a “hypodermic apparatus,” such as a hypodermic syringe and needle, from a pharmacist and other authorized sellers.

An individual, however, may not lawfully purchase or possess more than ten “hypodermic apparatuses” at any one time, unless otherwise authorized by law (such as a physician acting within the scope of employment).

Does Maine allow needle exchange programs?

Yes. Maine law authorizes the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to certify needle exchange programs.  There is no limit on the number of hypodermic needles participants in these programs may possess.

Does Maine allow access to PrEP and PEP without a prescription?

Yes, in June 18, 2021, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 1115, An Act to Improve Access to HIV Prevention Medications, which expands access to a simple, safe, and effective medication known as HIV pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) that reduces the risk of HIV transmission by close to 100%. The new law authorizes pharmacists to dispense PrEP, as well as HIV Post- exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), without a prescription on a short-term basis.

For more information, see: Maine Becomes a Leader in Pharmacy Access to Effective HIV Prevention Drug – GLAD

Does Maine have a law that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against some who is taking PrEP?

Yes, in 2019 the Maine Insurance Code was amended to prohibit discrimination under a life, disability income or long-term care insurance policy due to the fact that the individual has been prescribed preexposure prophylaxis medication to prevent HIV infection. For more information, see Title 24-A, §2159: Unfair discrimination — life insurance, annuities and health insurance.