I recently put together a presentation for a local support group on our rights in the workplace with diabetes. I'm self-employed and have no background in law, but nobody else wanted to speak about it, so I set out to educate myself. After the presentation, I drafted up a blog post based on what I found. This isn't a topic where I can claim much authority, but I did learn quite a bit.
In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act provide us with accommodations that many PWD probably don't realize we may take advantage of - like using intermittent FMLA for doctor's appointments a few hours here and there, filing complaints with the EEOC when we believe we've experienced discrimination, requesting modified or standard schedules instead of swing shifts, the provision of accommodations for eating/checking/training, etc. I would be curious to know how those rights differ in other countries.
In my searching, I found many discussion threads (many here on TuD, too) detailing how people faced discrimination and ignorance from their employers. I would bet that most of us have a similar story to tell. Just another area where the general population (with and without D) is undereducated.
Great post. This is an important topic. I think many of us struggle with these workplace issues and if we don't know our rights and advocate for them, sometimes we can face real problems.
I agree that this is all worthwhile information and it's important we know our rights. However, in today's economy it can be one thing to advocate for rights and quite another to be concerned about keeping a job. While it's illegal, of course, to be fired for standing up for your rights (especially when the ADA is involved), if a company sees you as a trouble maker and wants to get rid of you they can always come up with reasons - none of us are so perfect we don't commit small infractions that can be documented over time.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in standing up and I spent most of my professional life as an advocate and a fighter. I had one battle I fought very hard when I worked for a county organization and it made me few friends but I believed (and still do) I was right (prior to my D diagnosis). But today when I'm retired with CalPers benefits and insurance (with no premium) for the rest of my life, I shudder to think that I'd risked all that.
So my advice is to pick your battles. And if they're large ones to make sure you have a union or other support behind you.
I agree that one should be prudent and careful. But often the employer and employee are both uninformed of the actual law and the rights of those with diabetes. Technically, you've only broken the law when you get caught. In many situations, direct line managers can step over the line and knowing your rights and who to talk to about problems makes a huge difference. You don't have to battle til death, but you won't be granted your rights by the "uninformed" unless you know your rights and ask for them.
Thank you, nice blog post with info that I have been wondering about.
In Canada, I've had to face a lot of discrimination as a type 1 diabetic, not only against my employer, but against insurance companies as well. They don't like dealing with PWD because we cost them too much money. A couple of years ago, I had chronic kidney failure. I was working at a company who made me believe after 4 1/2 years of working there, that they would support me when it came down to the transplant. When I started getting extremely ill, I left work and my insurance company refused to give me disability. My husband and I had to spend out of pocket money for everything including the dentist, prescriptions, etc. for six months. I was so lucky that my sister decided to donate her kidney to me, and soon after, I had the surgery.
Dealing with my workplace and my insurance companies made me incredibly upset, I ended up getting sicker that prior to going into surgery. Through this entire situation, I was been ridiculed, degraded, told I was a weak person and that I had no initiative, and that I needed to find a different career. The company also tried to force me to quit my job, so I phoned the Human Rights Commission who deals with these issues. It's been two years now and still, no decisions have been made.
I face discrimination with this disease all the time.
I'm fighing with my schedule at working being changed. I work night shifts at a call center for McDonalds.
I work 3 (10) hour shift and 2 (5) hour shifts and have issues. I have asked to have my shifts modified but have been denied. Have been told only way they can do anything is have me go down from a Gold Tech down to a Silver Tech with lower pay.
I wrote up a reasonable accomidation and was accepted by HR. It went to the person who handles the schedulings and it was declined.
We have lost alot of people due to the scheduling along with alot of people with health isues. They too have been declined of having their health issues. Even with documentation from doctors.
Right now, we have had to do shift bids and now one knows what shift they will get. They all are 10 hr shifts. I'm really not sure what my rights are on this and frusterated.
My supervisers and co-workers have watched me go from having issues at the desk. I have over 400 minutes of sup off time from the phone than being on the phone. I have issues toward the end of my shift to where I need to be off the phone for an extended amount of time. Other times, I just go sup off for about 3 minutes to run to the bathroom.
I have FMLA - which I have used alot of it, but have no PTO to make up the loss of wages.
On my 10 hour shifts, at times I need to go lay down on the couch for 25 minutes and rest. In this time, I'm bothered by supervisors waking me up to see if I'm ok. I clearly have my phone setting out and setup so it will wake me if I fall asleep. I have not once been late.
Only time I have been late was when I told my supervisor from coming back to the bathroom that I need to lay down cause I was having a hard time staying awake. My blood sugars were high, I took insulin, but couldn't stay awake from it.
I set my clock for 20 minutes and told her I will be gone for that amount of time. 20 minutes turned into 2.5 hours. I came back and appoligized for it, but she said I checked on you to make sure u were still alive. She also wanted to make sure I was where I said I would be also.
Right now, I'm stressed cause of the shift bids that everyone is forced to change their schedules. I'm not sure what my hours will be...
I have wrote a letter that was enclosed with my last attempt for accomidation but was declined along with this one I previous sent yesterday....
As per our conversation yesterday in looking at the schedules I’m finding the ones below are the ones that will be able to work best for me.
Selection First Name M.I. Last Name Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Start
1 37 A US Staff Profile 4 10's Off 21:30 - 08:00 Off 21:00 - 07:30 21:30 - 08:00 21:30 - 08:00 Off 21:30 - 08:00 Fargo
2 37 B US Staff Profile 4 10's Off 21:30 - 08:00 Off 21:00 - 07:30 21:30 - 08:00 21:30 - 08:00 Off 21:30 - 08:00 Fargo
The schedule above is the one that would lessen the impact of having health issues toward the end of my shift. At around 7:30 and up I start having issues to where I need to take extra breaks along with going on Sup auth for extended amount of times, which substantially affects the amount of time I’m able to be live and help customers. Both supervisors and coworkers have expressed concern during these times as there is a marked change in how I function. At this time I am supposed to be taking a medication for my heart, but am unable to do so since it is a heavy sedative and would render me useless at work.
I would prefer to have the schedule of 11pm to 7:30am as when I had started at RTS and work the same days of Tuesday – Saturday. This shift I had little to no issues with my health. When I first started RTS, this schedule was arranged due to health issues. Some issues that occur are heart palpitations and high/low blood sugars, although the schedule above will substantially alleviate the issues. The gold schedules listed above are very close to what I have now and would work best to maximize my efficiency as an employee while reducing the risks of health issues on the job.
Back in April 2012, I wrote a Reasonable Accommodation paper to have my hours changed due to various issues I have been having in getting my hours changed. In it I had requested to have my hours moved back by about 2 hours so I could get off at an earlier time or move back to my old schedule. I wrote that I’m having issues in passing out, needing to take more time off for breaks and going sup off.
I am on an insulin pump that provides insulin for my type 1 diabetes. It is programmed for different insulin amount throughout the day/night. Going from a different schedule means more tests and getting it configured.
If I have a bad episode on my shift in the morning, it will at times wipe me out to where I’m unable to complete my shift, or come back to work the next night since the effects of an episode can last up to 24 hours. Going through an episode drains me of energy.
I am unable to do any morning / evening as my pump is set up for the night shift. Going to a different shift will cause issues of needing to have the pump readjusted and testing. Dangers of this causes issues having either severe highs and lows. Due to I take several meds during the day also, they tend to knock me out completely.
I am also concerned change in scheduling causes issues with my scheduling with eating, sleeping, medication changes. This causes hardship in needing to make appointments, cause days of work missed, use of FMLA, causes issues with my health.
What I need….
I need back to back days off. Give me time to recover if having a bad day from a low / high issues along with bad heart palpitations. I need hours that are between 10PM – 8AM since this is the configuration my pump is set at. Readjusting it causes multiple medical issues, including several medical appointments and missed work days.
If I am unable to get either of the two shifts detailed above, I can also attempt working either of the below shifts. It would be difficult since they go later into the morning and my supervisor (if changed) would need to be made aware of the ongoing health issues that occur after 7:30AM.
Selection First Name M.I. Last Name Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Start
3 24 A US Staff Profile 4 10's 22:30 - 09:00 Off 23:30 - 10:00 22:30 - 09:00 Off Off 23:30 - 10:00 22:30 - 09:00 Fargo
4 24 B US Staff Profile 4 10's 22:30 - 09:00 Off 23:30 - 10:00 22:30 - 09:00 Off Off 23:30 - 10:00 22:30 - 09:00 Fargo
One last thing: I realize the recommendation might be to go to silver due to more schedule flexibility. Unfortunately, this is not a feasible option since it would create too much financial strain.
My Reply back was today was....
I am forwarding your request on to Bill G who is best able to address your request.
In previous times, we’ve been able to address your needs by means of a Reasonable Accommodation due to health issues, but with the need for RTS to provide both Platinum and Gold Tech support on a 24/7/365 basis and the limited amount of those techs, Bill doesn’t have much, if any room, to negotiate.
Chad, I’d like to hope that if Bill can’t get you exactly what you want, that there may be a middle ground that can be negotiated that might work for everyone. Going forward, you’ll want to communicate your concerns with Bill.
I just feel that I'm against the wall and looking at being forced out the door... Is this even a fight worth fighting for?
If you have the power and mental strength to do so, fight it. Fighting with my company has taken a lot out of me, but I'm finally being heard. I find part of the problem as well is that not a lot of people can distinguish between T1 and T2, so they don't know T1 can potentially kill you, whereas T2 can be somewhat controlled. T1 is the more severe between the two and that's not recognized amongst the general public nor within the media or the Internet. If you feel discriminated against, fight. It's a matter of principle.
I am very fortunate to have a job now where I am able to take care of my medical needs without substantially impacting my job. I do policy research and largely set my own schedule, so I am able to easily work around my medical needs.
However, one aspect of this that I recently had to deal with involved confidentiality. I don't typically tell people I work with that I have T1 diabetes, partly because I don't want people making a big deal about it and partly because there just isn't any need. HOWEVER, I had a supervisor ask me last year if I was diabetic. I acknowledged that I was and she proceeded to tell others about my condition.
Now, in all fairness, I didn't explicitly ask for confidentiality. BUT, I did find out that she was in violation for discussing this with others without my consent. It's not a huge deal for me (I'm well-established in my career and less worried now about being discriminated against given my status), but I could imagine that for others it would be.
When I was job hunting right after college, the AWD Act had not yet taken place. Every application I came across asked if you had cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or mental illness. There were 3 where the interviewer said "I'm afraid we just can't hire people with diabetes", and several more where it wasn't put so directly. So I chose to lie and not mark it down. The lady said "you're healthy as a horse, right?", and I said yes. And I got the job.
Things are SO much better now.