White was informed that there would be no change to his responsibilities as he didn’t work directly with dental patients, and posed zero risk of infecting anyone. But things pretty much went straight to hell from there.
After months of this, he said he was overwhelmed.
His health took a turn for the worse, and he was hospitalized for a week. During that time, the clinic decided to fire him. They called him the day before he was to return to work and informed him that he was fired for excessive unexcused absences.
“I felt like my character was destroyed,” he says. “I went from wanting to be an activist—someone who spoke to groups about HIV—to someone who didn’t want to leave my room for six months.”
His lawyer Nicole Thompson says that “it’s very clear [White] has been traumatized by this.”
Thompson notes he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and White himself says he continues to see mental health professionals weekly to address his concerns. He still has trouble going into public places. For example, White says he “blacks out” when he goes to the grocery store and doesn’t remember being there. Right before the blackouts, White says, he feels like people are following him around and sanitizing everything he touches or that people are talking about him.
Our condolences go out to White. Nobody should have to deal with this nonsense as they are delicately navigating life-altering changes to their health. We applaud you for your bravery. You’re setting a fantastic example for all those who have faced workplace discrimination due to a medical condition. You go boy.