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Temporary Workers Rights and Mental Health Discrimination
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ChristophorM posted:
I have ADHD/OCD. This combination of traits is probably the reason I'm so good at my work. I'm a technician. I primarily work on computers, but I love solving all kinds of problems. I tend to volunteer for the most challenging projects that no one else wants because they're guaranteed to be learning opportunities and involve solving interesting problems. After nearly 20 years in the field, I have developed a wide skill set. I can write computer code, repair circuit boards, configure routers, pick locks or whatever. If I need to learn a new skill, I'll do it. I never give up until the job is done. Obstacles rarely slow me down. I'll go over, around behind or plow through anything that gets in the way. I love it when I do something I was told was impossible.

That stuff sounds great at the job interview. These skills got me may last 2 jobs. They also cost me those same jobs.

When the employer puts me on a task and says do what it takes, they don't realize what might happen when they become the obstacle. When I need access to resources controlled by others, there's always tension. I can't always explain what I'm doing in a way they understand. If someone causes a delay and they don't respond quickly with a reasonable explanation, I try to solve that problem by the same means. I can't stop myself. If they don't understand how I work bad things happen... to me.

I lost my job 3 days ago after I sent what I've been told was a strongly worded email to everyone in our group asking if anyone else was having problems getting parts they'd ordered 7 months ago. The parts person responded as if I was saying she wasn't doing her job. I asked her why she didn't answer me at all when I asked what was going on. This was a circular conversation. I say "Where are my parts?" she responds "I'm doing my job!" Eventually, she said she had documentation to back up her position. I replied "Show me." When I realized she was upset, I apologized, but it was too late. The next day, they called my company and said don't send Chris back.

Nobody let me explain, not even my company. It's like I no longer exist to them. Now, I think I was set up to fail. I was on a deadline, I had no parts and no information. Requests for help went unanswered for months on end. Nobody in my chain helped me find the parts or verify they'd been ordered. But they kept telling me to make the customers happy. No resources. No help. No ETA. Angry customers and me right in the middle. Anxiety, ADHD and OCD guy left to the wolves until they just kicked me to the curb for trying too hard to do my job. I never made a secret of my condition or why I had to take medicine and go to therapy. That didn't bother them while I was solving problems, but when they had to do their part, they kept my info and gave me the boot without even shaking hands.

The problem is I was a "temp" they just called the company and canceled me like a cell phone. It's not right. It's not fair and it may be illegal.

How should I proceed? Do I call law enforcement or a lawyer or what? Who handles these types of cases? Where find more info?

Any advise would be appreciated.

It feels good to get that off my chest.

Thanks.

Chris
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Thommylee52 responded:
Your story sounds just like something I would write. I too am a technician with a wide variety of skills that I've developed when given opportunities that others wouldn't take on. And, I too get into plenty of trouble with emails. What looks right to me most likely is misinterpreted by those who read them. And although I might send an email of concern to a single person, that person may very well send my email to a wide distribution....something I don't think about ahead of time. Those emails manage to come back and haunt me, sooner or later. But technically speaking, I pretty much do what you do. I'm strong in some areas, areas that are headed for the "obsolete" category. And, I know a little about a lot of things. But put me in an interview, and I can't sell myself. With the economy as it is, I fear for my job on daily basis. I haven't had that many jobs in my 45 years in the workforce. I was unexpectedly retired in 2001 with a package that would keep me going for awhile. Part of the package was professional training on writing resume's, and interview skills. The resume part ultimately came together. However, by today's standards, resume's are supposed to be no more than 2 pages, and go back no more than 15 years. So right there my resume would need to be re-written if need be. The interviewing skills training was a complete disaster because of my ADHD. The contractor providing this training tried their best, and even tried one-on-one training. I still failed miserably. It took 2 years, and help from within a company where I had been a contractor, to finally land a job. The interview was purely a formality since the job position was opened specifically for me. I had the job even before the interview. But today is a different story. I'm watching people with college degrees get laid off and find it impossible to land a job. I have no degree since I was unable to succeed in schools earlier in life. I have my skills, and those who know what I'm capable of doing, as well as my work ethics. Unfortunately, that doesn't count when x number of people have to be laid off. If your number is up, that's it! Should I get laid off, I'd have so much competition with others who have degrees that I'd never be able to land a position making anywhere near what I'm making now. My having ADHD is "only interesting" to those who choose who to keep, and who to let go. Even with the best meds that work for me, I'm unable to both work and even try to go to school. I'm just burned out by the end of a given work day, and need the downtime after work, and on weekends. If I don't get that, I'm ineffective at work the following week. I can't afford to put myself into a position where I can't perform to my abilities because I lacked the downtime I need. It's a precarious position to be in. Having a disability SHOULD give me a little latitude in the workplace. However, it doesn't, and doesn't carry any points when it comes time for a layoff. Should that happen, I'd go into financial ruin in a very short period of time. I'd end up losing everything I've worked for all these years before I could find a job given all the competition now. I also don't believe that taking any legal action would do anything more that waste a lot of money. If a company wants to get rid of you, they'll find a way. Whether it's poor performance (as they see it after writing GREAT performance in the past), or politics, if they want you gone, they'll find a way. Even if you succeeded getting your job back thru legal actions, you'll have a target painted on your back. They'll make you wish you didn't work there, and try to force you to quit. Then you can't get unemployment. Being a temp puts you in a more precarious position. The employer has an easy-out. I wish I had a good answer for those of us who have to deal with competing on the same level as others who are looking for what few jobs are available. Having one or more disabilities doesn't buy you anything, unless you know "people"
 
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SharingInfo responded:
Hi, Christophor, I was diagnosed with ADD after age 50. Luckily, I work for my state and with a good group of people. There are a few things you can check out.

According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, ADD can be considered a disability when it significantly, negatively affects one's work. It's not the same as a mental health disability. I also have OCD, so that's an interesting mix, yes? Oh, I've also been a temporary now and then in my career. I've been a secretary for years, and am also a published author.

First, just recently, I discovered a wonderful book, written by a therapist who has ADD. Her son also does, and she's dealt with the problems it's caused.

The book is called Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults, Fourth Revised Edition, by Lynn Weiss, Ph.D. She's also written ADD on the Job, and The New Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults Workbook. I'm going to follow through with the other two I just mentioned.

ADD in Adults starts with a list of the "29 Positive Benefits of ADD." It made me feel great!

You and I have been in the work force about the same amount of time. I'd like to suggest that you go back to school to learn a new technical skill, something that's really needed. I graduated from college when I was 35, so know a little about being a "non-traditional" student. Americans can expect to change "careers" four to seven times.

I'd like to suggest auto mechanics or perhaps medical billing. Auto mechanics is very computer driven (no pun intended,) and your activity level wouldn't hurt anything. Medical billing takes concentration, yes, but "hyperconcentration" is also an aspect of this condition, i.e., getting involved in something so that you lose track of time and can't stop, or don't want to stop.

I'd also like to suggest that you go to your local state employment office, look up the EEOC staf member, and find out what's available for ADD, specifically. Honestly, OCD doesn't need to be mentioned, because at least for me, the ADD causes more trouble in concentration than OCD. Oh, I also have PTSD thrown in now and then, and have dealt with that for approximately 15 years.

I visited WebMD in the search for information on the difference between non-linear and linear thinking. The subtitle of ADD for Adults is "A Different Way of Thinking."

I mentioned that I'm an author. If you're interested, the first book is called Mama's In Heaven -- But You Can Manage, written for teens about grief and emotional loss. It took me seven years to write, because I was still in the middle of the experience and still reading in my search for answers. The whole time I was writing, I kept thinking that I should have worked faster, completed it sooner, etc., etc. Actually when something did finally happen, it was the perfect moment.

I know it's easy to see the worst of a situation with OCD. ADD causes depression and frustration as a result of the difficulties it causes us non-linear thinkers in this linear-thinking society.

Good luck!
Sharin'
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Chris, I'm sorry this happened.
 
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ChristophorM replied to SharingInfo's response:
Thanks for the info about the book.

I think the OCD is the root of the problem for me in this case. I can't stand to see my own work unfinished. I feel like these broken machines are sitting there and everyone is looking at them thinking Chris isn't working. ADHD just adds to it because I can't stand to be bored for long. So find stuff to do. Sometimes I guess it just isn't the right stuff to do.

ADHD comes with Hyper Focus. OCD comes with Obsessions and Compulsions. Compulsive Hyper Focus I guess is one way to describe it.

On the one hand they says "This is an important job. We really need you to succeed." and on the other hand they're saying " You're job is to get them fixed. Our job is to get the parts. You do your job now and we'll do ours when we feel like it."

Did I mention this place is a Hospital? That just adds to my anxiety. Formally, the work order classification they use indicated all of my work orders were "affecting patient care." To me, that meant, someone wasn't getting the help they need because this machine that I'm supposed to repair is out of order. I can't stand feeling like that.

Getting the parts became my focus. That's all. Nothing sinister or crazy. It was just an email that someone didn't like.

I'm 100% positive that if I'd had a chance to explain. The whole thing would have blown over and we'd all be friends now. It's just stupid when people are afraid to talk to each other.

Being a contractor makes it easier for them to pull the plug on you than deal with you.

Oh well, it's in the past. Thankfully, my ADHD is kicking in and the whole situation is rapidly fading in my rear view mirror. The best thing about ADHD is "NOW" is always more interesting to me than "BEFORE" or "LATER". I hope I said that in a way that makes sense.

I'm normal. Everyone else is crazy.

Good luck everyone.

Chris
 
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ChristophorM replied to Boyzmomee's response:
Thanks. But, truthfully, it's probably for the best.

The other techs had mentioned people who had been let go for rocking the boat before I got there. Anyone who's read my other posts probably knows I don't respond well to threats and intimidation. Basically, I will not work for jerks. (I can't say that the way I usually do here, but you get the idea.)

Once I was warned about a certain Doctor who could "destroy you." I said "No. He can't 'destroy' me. He can only stop signing my pay check." The point being, nobody has to put up with anything unless they choose too. Remaining employed may outweigh personal comfort. That calculus belongs to the individual. For me the math is easy. I'm only going to be in this life once. I'm not going to let a bunch of jerks take any more that the absolute minimum of happiness from me. I'm willing to give up a crappy job rather than suffer fools in the chain of command even if I have to eat Ramen Noodles until I find a new job.

Working for people who use your contractor status as leverage is like waiting for your mom to pull off a band-aid. Each day is like pulling it slowly a little bit at a time. I'd rather just rip the thing off and get on with the rest of my day. It hurts a lot. Once, and only for a few minutes. But it's better than suffering daily until it finally comes off anyway.

I hope that makes sense. I know it's a tough economy, believe me, but I'm simply not capable of being a sheep and staying in the pen even if its better for me in the long run. It's not in my DNA to stay inside the box for long.

Oh, well. Enough rambling. A new job isn't going to find me. I have to find it. Back to the work of looking for work.

Thanks for the kind words and advice.

Good luck everyone.

Chris Moore


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