“I’d worked in the same job for 25 years. I’m a hard worker, all I wanted to do was continue to do my job, and with the assistance from HALC I was able to do just that.”
When I started treatment for Hepatitis C I decided to confide in my supervisor so I would have some support at work if I needed it. I was a production line worker and I’d hardly had a day off sick in 25 years so, so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem if I needed a day or two whilst I was getting the treatment.
How wrong I was… The next thing that happened was they told me to stay at home until further notice. Once my sick leave ran out, I received no pay at all. My boss said “well, you should go to Centrelink”.
I went to Centrelink because I had no money. But because I technically still had a job, I was not eligible for unemployment benefits; and since I was not actually sick, I was not eligible for sickness benefit either.
I contacted HALC to seek assistance. My savings were fast running out, and I just wanted to get back to work. I felt stigmatised and discriminated against, I hadn’t done anything wrong.
We lodged an anti-discrimination complaint and a week later my employer put me onto paid leave and provided back pay for the time I was on forced leave. In the complaint, we had explained that to send me home just because I had Hepatitis C was unlawful discrimination. A month later I returned to work, and I negotiated with my employer that while I was having treatment I could have some time off for doctor’s appointments.
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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]