Ever been DISCRIMATED against in the workplace for Crohn's Disease? Is CD a "disability"?

Do you consider Crohn's disease to be a disability?
14
YES - 87.5%
2
NO - 12.5%

 
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gadgetgirl
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 3/6/2009 7:10 PM (GMT -7)   
I have. I am 26 and am about to lose yet another job (lets see...I think this will be #5?) due to being sick and working for a stupid, inflexible, ignorant employers.

Have had CD for 3 years and have been hospitalized 12 times. The repeated cycle of obtaining employment, being stressed out, coming out of remission and getting sick, then getting fired or "laid off" due to being sick, and then of course losing health care coverage is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

I feel that I am unfairly discriminated against because of my illness. My stupid boss actually told me "You have to stop spending so much time in the bathroom, you have to be at your desk so that you can do the job we pay you to do" ***?!? Yeah, she knows about my condition, so does HR, she may as well be telling a person in a wheelchair to move faster because time is money. Talk about "OFFICE SPACE", am am so ready to either steal millions or burn the building down....preferring the second option at this point.

I consider CD (in my case) to be disabling, but not a disability.....I am too sick to keep a job but not sick enough to be "disabled" in the eyes of the state.

I am wondering if I should disclose CD as a disability from the time of employment so that my employer can make "reasonable accommodations" in advance, or if that is reserved for people who have an actual disability?? (OR, am I kidding myself and should my condition be defined as a legitimate disability?)

BUT, by disclosing my "disability" this would then open a new door of possible discrimination and I could be denied employment to begin with.

THOUGHTS?? Please share your story. As much as I hope that no one else has to deal with this kind of BS, I need to relate with someone. I need to find some kind of resolution, even if only emotional.

ivy6
Elite Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 3/6/2009 7:37 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm so sorry for what you're going through, Gadgetgirl. We do have a few legal whizzes here, and I hope they'll be along shortly to give you some advice.

It might help if we knew what country, and perhaps what state, you lived in? Don't worry if this is too personal to share; we can probably give you general advice anyway; but our legal people might find it easier to suggest particular avenues of help if we knew what jurisdiction you live in.

Ivy.
Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.


MAG102886
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 674
   Posted 3/6/2009 7:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Im fortunate that I was with my current employer for over 2 years before I flared and was out for over 3 months. Im also in a union so they basically cant get rid of me haha.  I can see an employer being upset with an employee who spends too much time in the bathroom, I think its completely understandable.  However, I see clearly through the eyes of a person with Crohns disease and how badly we want to work, and not only that but do well at work to in a way prove ourselves.  I really think it could go either way, I am sure if I wasnt in a union they would have canned me long ago.  My GI recomended that I go in disability, but I refused to.  Perhaps you can go on a temp disability until your Crohns is somewhat under control, or you find the right meds for you.  Im in the bathroom at work numerous times a day, luckily the girls in my department are very understanding and feel for me.  I feel the same way as you, Crohns can very well be disabling at times, but in my case its not a disability.  I know that I can work, and I know that I do a better job then 90% of the people I work with, my set back is though, that Im gone for long periods of time, and Im always in the bathroom.  I think its almost natural for an employer to want someone who does half-assed work, rather then someone who does good work but is never there, or always "missing" aka in the bathroom.  I wish people had more compassion, but I guess they need to put money in their pocket too.

Dianogsed with Crohns: At 16 years old. 22 years old now.
Surgeries:2 Bowel Resections, Gallbladder Removed.
Current Meds: Humira (bi-weekly)
 

LMills
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 3/6/2009 8:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Crohn's IS a disability and your employer can be reprimanded for preventing you from going to the bathroom. That is a perfectly reasonable accommodation that many employers are willing to give so long as you still able to work efficiently. You might try talking to someone higher up about this if you keep losing your jobs because your employers refuse to be understanding of what is going on..obviously not all accommodation requests can be granted, but no one should prevent you from using the restroom.
20 years old, Diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's and Colitis in May of 2008.
Currently taking:
Prednisone 5 mg, pentasa 2 pills 4x a day, bentyl as needed, omeprazole in the morning, prenatal multivitamin, humira every other week, and good probiotics.
Surgery for ectopic pregnancy most likely the result of severe Crohn's inflammation in July of 2008.
Attempting a diet without refined sugars, high fat content, bleached or bromated flour, most dairy, red meat, and avoiding anything spicy like the plague. Also refuse to eat anything with trans fat or high fructose/corn syrup.
"He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."


gadgetgirl
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 3/7/2009 12:08 AM (GMT -7)   
In response to ivy6 I live in Phoenix, AZ. Thank you for any direction, I did not realize that there may be such resources available thru this site. I welcome any information you can provide.

In response to MAG102886, I have gotten the "We know you are sick but we have a business to run" speech in the past, and can deal with that. Such is the nature of business. However my complaint is directed towards the harassment I receive about how I spend my time, and how much time, in the restroom at the office. People that breastfeed take more than the allowed amount of breaks to make bottles in the "quiet rooms" set aside specifically for that purpose, and I believe that bathrooms should be considered the same type of sanctuary for people such as ourselves. Which leaves me back at my original conundrum of if I should be disclosing my condition up front, such as pregnant women may....

daisyrambler
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 126
   Posted 3/7/2009 12:32 AM (GMT -7)   
there is a law called family medical leave act (FMLA) you should look into it .... I had a job that if i missed more then 10 days i would lose my job ... but they told me to look into FMLA and i did ... I had to get my Dr. to fill out some paper work and he turned it in and it was all set ... they could not do or say anything about me not being there or being late ... so ask your Dr. or HR or google it ... I think it will help you !!

Good luck and God bless
> 27 year old female < 
 > Diagonsed with Crohns disease in 2000 <
 > In 2009 I was told my Crohns is Crohn's Colitis ~ they said it was in my rectum, colon and all through my small intestine <
 
 > Medication - pentasa(4000mg), imuran(100mg), prednisone(40mg 30mg 20mg 10mg 5mg), singulair, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium+D, multivitamin, b-12, iron, and fish oil <
 
> I thank the Lord every day for my amazing husband and wonderful family <


randynoguts
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 6049
   Posted 3/7/2009 2:45 AM (GMT -7)   
gadjetgirl.. while i understand your frustration comparing it to breast feeding and wheelchair use is a bit of a stretch. as for breastfeeding, although i disagree with the practice at work, unfortunately the employer is usually the loser in suits brought by these women. so they cave in. thats why so many are not hired if they even appear pregnant at the interview. the employer knows right off the bat that ecessive sick leave will most likely be used by the mother thus causing the employers cost to rise significantly. as for the wheel chir comparison, i can see many jobs that could effectivly not hire a person for use of a chair if the job requires extreme mobility, or speed of movement from one local to the other. sure office jobs etc.. can be made to accomodate these people, but the main focus of the job accomodation is that with a "reasonable" accom. that the person MUST be able to do the job duties that an able bodied person in the same job could do. so if your jobs have included tasks that REQUIRE you to be at your work space a certain amount of time or to do tasks in a given time alotment, then you would fail these tests if you spent a large time period away from your workspace. now if your work is a set amount of tasks or or assemblies in a given time, and you could, clock out for bathroom trips and stayed untill your tasks for the day were done WITHOUT affecting other work/workers then you should have the chance to do so. however if by using bathroom breaks that then impact other work or workers, IE: you not finishing in a certain time frame stops aproduction line, or prevents other from doing their tasks, then your SOL i think. so just examine what your job entails and follow the guidlines of your HR dept . i am not a lawyer but play one on the internet! ;0)


randynoguts 



     http://www.geocities.com/randynogutsweb/

Post Edited (randynoguts) : 3/7/2009 10:56:51 PM (GMT-7)


janicea
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 350
   Posted 3/7/2009 2:52 AM (GMT -7)   
"For example, a person with Crohn's disease who has periodic flareups that require hospitalization will likely be covered under the first part of the new definition of disability because we will consider what his limitations are during his flareups and because bowel function is definitely considered a major life activity as of January 1, 2009."

http://www.jan.wvu.edu/bulletins/adaaa1.htm

Take a look at this article and click on the links, it looks to me like ADA law is starting to move in the favor of people with Crohn's disease.... :)

hugs!

janicea
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 350
   Posted 3/7/2009 3:15 AM (GMT -7)   
This is also a great article:

http://www.salix.com/gastroenterology-resource/patient/newsletter/vol13/index.aspx

MMMNAVY
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 6927
   Posted 3/7/2009 6:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Disablity law varies from state to state. 
Even the military now allows women to have breastfeeding breaks, if possible (i.e. you cannot take a break if your are in the middle of flying a plane, but you could if you worked security, because you would have someone to relieve you), with their job.
(Navy bangs the desk with her fist about the folks having problem with breast feeding breaks for working mothers.)

Gagetgirl, I would suggest you talk with a disablity lawyer, because other then fitzy (who is darn near a lawyer or is she now?) we are not lawyers.
Just as someone who has worked in a leadership role I would be concerned about creating a "hostile work enviroment" for you with the whole "we have a business to run" spiel.


Forum Co-moderator - Crohn's Disease:_All comments have the caveat contact your local health care provider.

I will find a way or make one. –Phillip Sidney 1554-1586

All that I am and all that I shall ever be, I owe to my Angel Mother.

The Bucket List- Have you found joy in your life?  Has your life brought joy to others?

Make sure your suffering has meaning…

Post Edited (MMMNAVY) : 3/7/2009 6:55:02 AM (GMT-7)


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 3/7/2009 10:23 AM (GMT -7)   
I am here and going to post a response (that is NOT legal advice though :) --- in a few moments.
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


petittarte
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 686
   Posted 3/7/2009 10:38 AM (GMT -7)   
Part of my job requires me to be available to answer phones. I knew this when I was hired. If I take frequent long bathroom breaks I am not able to answer the phones and not doing the job I was hired to do. It's not discriminatory it's a fact.
Jodi

Remicade and 6MP


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 3/7/2009 10:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Ok, after a google search I found the Arizona Center for Disability that has a lot of self-help guides to understanding the ADA. You should take time to read any of the links that sound like they may pertain to you:
http://www.acdl.com/selfguides.html

Now, the ADA is a federal law that every state has to follow. However, some states offer even more protection than the federal statute. That is why it is important to read not only the federal law but the applicable state law as well. A few things to consider from the federal law:

In order for the act to qualify to your employer they must employ 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such person. If you work for a small insurance company that has a chain you would probably be able to count the employees in the chain, not just in your office.

Now as far as whether or not you are disabled, I disagree w/ Randy's interpretation of the law.

In order to be a "qualified individual with a disability" you must be able to perform the essential functions of the employment position WITH OR WITHOUT reasonable accomodations. So, if with the ability to use the restroom as needed would allow you to perform the essential functions of the job, then your employer would need to make that accomodation.

Now, there is more case law as to what is an "essential function" and what is a "reasonable accomodation." The employer usually gets to define what is an essential function of the job. As for what is reasonable, I think you can figure that out on your own. If you are trying to be a fireman than it probably wouldn't be reasonable to expect the fire truck to pull over when you have to poop. If you are working any office job or even in a resturant where someone could cover for you, using the restroom would be a reasonable accomodation. You should NOT have to clock out to use the bathroom. You should just have to get your work done. Now if you are an hourly employee and you wanted to get on your employers good side you could offer to work an extra half hour unpaid per day to make up for all the extra time that you spend in the bathroom (if it really is that much). But I don't think that would really be necessary.

Now, more than ever crohns would be considered a disability because the definition was recently amended to include diseases that are intermittent or in remission but when acting up would substantially limit a major life activity. I think most courts would consider controlling ones bowels a major life activity.

In my state, we have greater protections than the ADA affords along w/ a list of diseases that are automatically considered qualifying. Crohns is one of them. My states version of the ADA also applies to any business w/ more than 1 employees while the federal one is still 15. Again, find your state law!

Now as far as how to get these protections. I would not mention crohns in an interview. But once you are hired, and you realize you will need an accomodation you should mention it to whoever is supervising you or would need to cover for you. Legally you only have to tell HR but practically speaking I think it is easier to inform your supervisor. Make it seem like no big deal. "Hey, I have crohns and will need to use the bathroom as needed." If you get any flack then say. "Are you aware that this is a disability under the ADA and that using the restroom is a protected reasonable accomodation?" If you continue to run into trouble, get a lawyer or contact the EEOC or your state's EEOC.

Now, before you lose this current job why don't you try to see if they will make the accomodations after you formally ask for them, citing the ADA! Then you can protect yourself if you do get fired. Keep a detailed journal of what you ask for, what is and isn't given, and what snide comments you recieve. Like someone else said, that could be deemed creating a hostile workplace.

Good luck!
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 3/7/2009 10:57 AM (GMT -7)   
Jodi, I also disagree. They can make reasonable accomodations for you such as having the electronic phone tree direct the calls or a coworker answer calls for you. They could even give you a portable phone set to take with you lol!
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


pillpopper
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 209
   Posted 3/7/2009 12:42 PM (GMT -7)   
My job is protected by the FMLA.
I report infusions to a company
that supports its rules.(missed
work.) I only have six bm's a
day so I empty myself as much
as possible at home.And like you
run circles around people at work.
The sad part is I have to have my
Dr. do the paperwork every year...
I tell them I cannot get my intestines
back...Their gone,see the scar...
diagnosed 1981
remission until 2006
Remacade,resection
B-12,Pentasa,Loperamide,
Entocort, 6mp,Hydrochlorothiazide
Remission since surgery
and 8-week Remacade.
d since 1981(enjoy the look
on Dr's faces)


Dagger
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 3/7/2009 2:25 PM (GMT -7)   
I wouldn't disclose anything until you are hired. If they are choosing between you and someone else equally qualified, they'd just choose the other person once they know about the Crohn's.

Once you get the job, discuss reasonable accommodations. If they have a problem with accommodations, you'll know right away that this isn't the job for you.

FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 3/7/2009 3:32 PM (GMT -7)   
To be protected under FMLA you have to have worked at your job for over a year and they must have 15 or more employees (unless your state has greater protections). FMLA allows you up to 12 weeks off per year unpaid.
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


isergodur
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 831
   Posted 3/7/2009 3:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I took a sick leave from work when i started getting sick in October and have not gone back to work. I have been sick the whole time and it is also good not having to deal with the stress that comes with the job..

i am on disability now and can have that until 2011 but of course i plan to be good really soon..
24 year old female
Diagonsed with Crohns disease in December 2008..
Medication - Asacol, Remicade, Entocort


gadgetgirl
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 3/12/2009 3:01 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for all the advice, I am looking up the articles provided. I am not covered by AZ's FMLA leave because I have not worked at the company for a year, that will come in May if I make it that long. I am a Financial Aid Counselor at UOP. The position does not allow for flexibility and severely overrated and micromanaged. Its not that I cannot do my job from lack of time at my desk, its that I dont make my daily "talk time" of 1.5 hours since I work in a stupid call center. Thats right, Academic/Enrollment/Finance "Counselors" at University Of Phoenix work in a call center. We are provided with minimal training then handed a government program to manage for 500+ students each. Its not that spending time in the bano takes away from my job, I have voicemail, I call my students back, they have my email address, its that the position and the company and the CALL CENTER require that I spend 1.5 hours on the phone every day. Often there are too many other pressing matters that I have to handle instead of calling a student just to BS and get my daily talk time. This is why my sTupervisor gets pissed that I spend so much time in the bathroom, because that is time I could be spending on the phone to make her number look better. NOT because it takes away from my job.

Yes, I have attempted to transfer to another position within the company. Its a darn large company. However, company policy mandates that I be in my position for a minimum of 6 months and have an excellent review and have a good referral from my manager. What did my manager do when I applied for another position to seek sanctuary away from her evilness? She gave me a written warning for my "attendance and performance" which prevents me from obtaining another position within the company for at least 6 months. After those 6 months, I would need good numbers, and a good referral from my stupervisor. I applied for a job in the MAIL ROOM (shipping and receving). Yeah, I want to demote myself so that I can have a more flexible less stressful position and I was cock blocked by my stuperviosr. Thanks Boss!! If you think I suck, and spend too much time in the bathroom, and am hurting your numbers, why WOULDN'T you transfer me? That would have been ideal for everyone.

However, the more pressing matter is that I was sat down by HR the other day and the rep proceeded to tell me that my condition is not covered by ADA....WHAT?!? what happened to the medical certification my doctor completed in July 2008 for my hospitalization? What happened to all my complaints to the company's "ADA Office"? What the hell have I been going through if my condition is not covered by ADA and I am "subject to disciplinary action just like every other employee"? Apparently I never filed correctly or some technical BS, but isn't that why there is an ADA office at the company? so that they can direct me on properly completing the infomation required so that I can cover my ass?

thats all fine and dandy, I just dont care anymore. Let the ******s fire me then I can collect unemployment and not work for a year. BTW NEVER work for the University of Phoenix/Apollo Group. They suck ASS.

gadgetgirl
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 3/12/2009 3:03 PM (GMT -7)   
and thanks FITZ for all the research you did, I will check out that website now :)
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