Epilepsy in the work place

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First Daughter
New Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/1/2006 4:37 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't have epilepsy myself, but our son was just fired yesterday because of "lack of work focus". He's a computer programmer, so spends all day looking at a screen in an office, then goes home and works there as well. He's 25 years old, diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 9. Because he's an adult now, I hesitate to butt in, but I'm wondering if his lack of focus could be due to his meds (Depakote) or perhaps he's even haing little seizures and itsn't aware of it. He says his brain just gets "fried" and he has to rest for a few minutes. I'm wondering if he will need to get some kind of medical support in this...like a letter from the doctor saying that he NEEDS to take breaks.

Maybe I'm just over-reacting...what do you think?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 668
   Posted 7/1/2006 9:21 PM (GMT -7)   
devil   devil
First Daughter,
First of all ~ It is against the law for an employer to "FIRE" an employee due to a seizure condition.
It is a form of descrimination and against the Human Rights code and the federal constitution.
It is the responsibility of the employer to provide an adequate work area and supply special needs if required.
"By law the employer must provide adequate working conditions or supply special needs as/if required to effectively do the job, even if that means restructuring the work area".

However, if a case like that ever went to court, it would be awfully hard for anybody to prove that they were denied a job for THAT reason, therefore cases like that usually go unreported.
Although I'm from Canada and have worked for the federal Gov't for 30 yrs., this law is almost exactly the same.
Second ~ the meds (Depakote) can definately cause lack of concentration and focus, it's like you're in a fog. It's a huge trade-off ~ stay on the meds and put up with the side effects or go off the meds and risk a seizure, possibly while you're driving.
I'm speaking from 27 yrs. of experience.
Here is what happened to me:
My bosses thought that I was putting it on so I wouldn't have to do certain things. Through my employer (Government of Canada) they finally sent me to a "neuro/psyc" to examine me and DOCUMENT what I can/can't do. We have the right to request this type of exam, in MY case it was my employer that requested it. As a result of it being documented, my employer sent the results to "Health Canada" and since the job was being illiminated, the report showed that "as a result of the long term use of the meds, I could not learn new tasks "and requested that I go on DISABILITY and then medical retirement. That proved to my employer that I was telling the truth all along and NOT FAKING IT.

Diagnosed with epilepsy and ulcerative colitis in 1979,
Been on meds ever since.

First Daughter
New Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/2/2006 11:45 AM (GMT -7)   
RanMan, thanks so much for responding. After hearing from you, I had a talk with my son, encouraged him to be a good advocate for himself. He said he would e-mail his boss and ask if he could know specifically why he was fired. I told Aaron to save the reply in a file in case he ever needs it. He was really upset to read that after years of taking medication, you've lost the ability to learn new things. Aaron HATES taking medication and wants to go off so badly. I wish he would think of the medication as his "friend" and be grateful for it.

I'm going to look up Depakote and its side-effects...Aaron has always had difficulties with attention and needing excessive sleep. I just never worried about it too much since he did well in public school. He had a lot of trouble in college though (needed a lot of sleep). He did finally finish though, and now we're just struggling with getting him launched into adulthood.

I see on your "electronic signature" that you have colitis as well. I have Crohn's disease. You really got stuck with two nasty ones, but it sounds like you were able to work well for 30 years! Thank you again for answering.
50 yrs old, diagnosed in '80, special ed teacher, married to a wonderful mailman & mother of two grown (yikes!) men

Michael S.
New Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 7/4/2006 1:42 AM (GMT -7)   
I just wanted to wish your son the best of luck in whatever may take place.
I myself can relate to the spells of being confusing and having a fried brain.
When I have an absence seizure I lose all track of time and anything around me; it makes my memory go awful and makes me terribly tired like all I want to do is good to sleep and rest for a bit. Of course my grand mals and my petites and twitching make me tired as well; the absence tend to make me just as much as the grand mal.
I can relate to wanting to get off medication; I have way to many myself. I had the worst time getting onto my Dilantin - it was nothing but an uphill battle. I have a doctors appointment on Wednesday so I'm hoping he will leave my Dilantin level where it is; providing my labs came out today ok. I'm also really hoping if it wasn't high enough he would simply increase the dosage of it or Klonopin. Depaokote never seems to have any side effects on me that would prohibit me from wanting to take it; however the Dilantin is an ugly medication.
Again; I hate my seizure meds; I'm nearly as old as your son...but taking your seizure medication - no matter the side effects - is worth more than not taking it. It comes down to a simple matter of safety; and I'm sure he knows that.
Most of the seizure meds will make you sleepy - they really just shut down parts of your brain so the neurons (spelling) don't fire as hard or fire more "correctly". The Dilantin used to make me tired; but I adjusted. The Klonopin does make me tired; but I simply fight it. Once again and I can't say it enough - IT IS BETTER THAN HAVING BAD SEIZURES!
I know you're not the one not taking your medicine; so hopefully I didn't preach to you.
Good luck in everything First; and right here are the side effects for Depakote.
CNS - Central Nervous System / drowsiness, sedation, headache, dizziness, atazia, confusion
EENT - Eyes Ears Nose Throat / visual disturbances
GI / nausea, vomiting, indigestion, pancreattis, hypersalivation, anorexia, increase appetite, diarrhea, constipation
Derm - Dematology / rashes
Hemat / prolonged bleeding time, leukopenis, thrombocytopenia
Meta - metabolism / hyperammonemia
Neuro - neurological / paresthesia
Hope that saves some time!
Michael Stigers
23 year old / white / male
  • Pheumothorax Disorder (Lungs)
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Heart Attacks (Total of Two)
  • Chornic Pain
  • COPD


Vicodin, Flexeril, Dilantin, Klonopin, Despiramine, Atrovent, Baclofen

* Feel free to message or e-mail *


Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 71
   Posted 7/10/2006 8:17 PM (GMT -7)   
I was fired from my job here in San Diego as a IT person for having a seizure on the job. What makes me mad is I take no breaks and had a good attendance record and also had employee of the month. They said it was to much liability for me to work there. I told them this doesnt happen much at work, mostly at home. I also said people taking smoke breaks spend more time off the clock than I did having a 2 minute seizure. I talked to a lawyer here in CA and he said not alot I can do and the Fair Housing Board said I can sue if I think they are discriminating to me. It seems kind of no fair. My last job I had for 8 years and if I had a seizure at work they were very cool and nice about it and took very good care of me, to bad they went under :(

Thanks for any advise,

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 8/8/2006 12:44 AM (GMT -7)   
Well First daughter I don't think the medication has nothing to do with your son having seizures while being on the computer. I have epilepsy and have been diognosed since I was 3 years old I take KEPPRA,LAMICTAL,AND TEGRETOL XR and as a computer lover my self I've had some episodes while being on the computer to long. I think they are caused by the flashes and the brightness on the screen and it's the same with video games. I also wanted to take a career that involved computers but I thought about this subject so I had to have second thoughts about this. But I don't think this affects to all people with epilepsy to me this is kind of rare but like I said it depends on the person and what type of seizures they have and stuff. :-)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 65
   Posted 8/8/2006 9:41 AM (GMT -7)   
Did you read what RanMan wrote earlier in this forum? He gave me the same advice not too long ago. By law, your employer really does have to work with you to make sure that you are not in a hazardous environment. If their only reason for firing you was the liability thing, you do have options. I called the HR office for one of my jobs and fought to be able to stay on (decided not to go back anyways, but at least I pitched a good fit). The Americans with Disabilities Act does cover this, and if your lawyer didn't mention it, you may want a new lawyer. I'd call above your boss' head first. It worked for me, AND my boss got chewed out, which made me feel much better. :) Let me know how things go. You deserve to have that job back. I got fired even though I was employee of the year, and believe me, I know how much it sucks!
~Heidi Hope~
"For I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord.  "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you Hope & a Future."
Jeremiah 29:11

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