Has anyone ever dealt with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) since you've been working and trying to manage the weird symptoms of MS?
I've been working in the same office (for school district) for 24 years. I was dx'ed with relapsing/remitting 17 years ago and have exceptionally well until the last year or so. I began to notice I was starting to have "cognitive" problems.
Back in April, I was called into my director's office and written up for some issues that were pure BS but it was at that time that I was asked WHY I was having problems with things that had never been a problem before. I calmly explained the MS sometimes produces cognitive problems.......among other things.
Everyone in my office knows I've had MS a long time, but it's NOT something I've ever used as an "excuse" or talk about. I explained to my director that MS is a neurological disease and I have no control over the problems and don't even KNOW when the cognitive problems are kicking in. I also told her I'd give her some information about so she could read it and understand it. I further told her I'd appreciate her telling me if she noticed it becoming worse on some days so we could discuss the issue. Instead, she WROTE ME UP!
Three weeks ago, I was called into her office and was put on paid administrative leave until my contract ended recently. And since I was an "at will" employee, she didn't have to give me a "reason" for firing me. I was told to load up my stuff and leave......which I abruptly did.
Is it time for me to contact and meet with someone from ADA or the EEOC? In my latest copy of Neurology Now, there was an article on "Workplace Rights" and it literally jumped off the page as I was reading it!!! One sentence in particular said, "If you BELIEVE your rights in the workplace have been violated because of having MS, you can file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision."
Any suggestions or ideas from anyone? Since I didn't get a CONCRETE answer for being fired, I can only assume my director thought my symptoms would get worse and she fired me. Who knows? Twenty-four years down the drain!!!!!!!!!! I'm NOT going down without a fight but also have NO desire to get my job back.......unless my director leaves!!!!!
Thanks for any help, suggestions, or discussion on this subject.
You're feeling pissed off and want revenge, but you don't want your job back. I think you've answered your own question, really.
We are all at will employees and can therefore be fired for any reason. Does the ADA protect us from that? Not usually. All an employer has to do is state that an employee is no longer fulfilling the requirements of his/her job. Period. They don't have to elaborate. They are fully within their rights to do so. The ADA might be useful while you are still on the job by offering guidelines for accommodating a disabled worker with workstation aids and equipment--but once you lose your job, well...
It is very hard to prove discrimination, any kind of discrimination, and you don't have a leg to stand on. You'd have to produce quite a clear record of discrimination against you and it doesn't exist.
The way you were treated created a hostile environment. You do not want to work in such an environment, and especially not in a place that holds such a cynical attitude towards you. Once we lose our credibility, for whatever reason, we never get it back. It doesn't matter that it wasn't your fault. It's office culture, corporate Darwinism, whatever you want to call it, you can't do a thing about it except make a graceful exit.
So let go of it and move on. You don't need the stress.
Hi Kim and thanks for your input, because you're probably right. Problem is........I'm the THIRD person in my office the director has gotten rid of in the last few years......all for health reasons.
One staff member also had MS and had asked for accommodations and didn't get them. She filed a grievance against the director and her case was going to court until the school district "settled" with her for an undisclosed amount of money.
The other staff member's husband was dying of cancer and was in the hospital. That staff member was written up for her absences (to be with her husband in his final days) and then was informed that her contract was NOT going to be renewed the following school year. She ended up losing her husband AND her job within a month or so!
Suffice it to say that the director has NO EMPATHY for anyone, for ANY reason! Hostile environment is an understatement!!! She's cold-blooded and it needs to STOP!!!
After my demise from the office, I scheduled a meeting with the Superintendent.......not to "fight" for my job back, but to discuss what had just happened and possibly prove that the director needed to be let go, demoted, whatever. FIRING HER would be the best move the school could make! Everyone in the office always wondered if THEY would be her next "target"......as she always had one.......and has always gotten away with it.
My meeting was "productive" with the Superintendent as he took notes, asked me questions, and seemed genuinely concerned about the director and her tactics. And yes, I handed him DOCUMENTATION to prove my points I was trying to make. Isn't that the name of the game?
Yes, I "believe" I was discriminated against (words from EEOC) and I still want some answers from them. I was just wondering if other people had ever fought the same battle and how it all ended. Very hard to prove discrimination? I'm gonna give it my best shot because I have nothing to lose at this point. If nothing else, the EEOC needs to re-word or explain what they mean by discrimination. If nothing will be accomplished or settled, it's kind of a moot point to fight for something that won't happen. "BELIEVE" is the key word!!!
Thanks again for your explanations and slant on the subject.
I was suddenly fired from a job and called the state civil rights people, I wanted to fight it, too. They discouraged me since the employer had said nothing that smacked of discrimination. I knew that the gal who had the job before me was fired in the same fashion, tried to sue, there was a hearing, and she lost. I decided not to do anything.
Practically speaking, you would need to find a civil rights lawyer who would take your case pro bono. Good luck with that, because if you can't find someone, you'll be paying for it. Do you have the resources to fight it out in court for a couple of years? That's where corporations have the upper hand, they have resources. And if they agree to settle out of court, then the problem remains under wraps. What have you accomplished? Is that fighting the good fight? If you get a settlement, will it offset your legal expenses?
I know it has been a week since this discussion but I have been struggling with another relapse. It affects my hands so typing is challenging.
I hope you are doing ok and though I totally agree with the devil's advocate, I would like to offer up another opinion.
I worked for a law-publishing company for 20 years.
I will try to put my thoughts together so that they are easy to understand but bare with me as I struggle with cognitive/foggy issues, as well.
I guess what I would like to say can best be derived from my own experience so you can take from it what you will. My younger sister has been a k-4 teacher for 27 years and now also has MS.
In 2007 I suddenly had a dizzy episode that lasted for 2 weeks. It was so bad that I had to crawl to the bathroom. My bed would not stop spinning. I have an older sister that had been diagnosed with MS about 8 years prior to this event. My primary care doctor was very supportive early on. He put me on a patch with scople-mine 1.5 mg. it stopped the dizziness. I wore that patch for the better part of 3 years.
In 2008, I was training a team of folks remotely from my home in India. I wrote the training manual. I had to work a split shift as they were 13 hours ahead of us and I was still learning some of the procedures myself. So when I became extremely fatigued, there was no reason to wonder why. I loved my job so very much. I started at age 28 and learned so much. I never attended college so I had to give blood, sweat and tears to compete with all the new staff.
By fall I became really nauseous and got weaker and weaker. Early in 2009 work became a huge struggle. I started having trouble following the training manual that I wrote. In August I went out on short-term disability from my company. I had no choice. Both hands went numb, I had ataxia, I was struggling with both physical and mental fatigue. My doctor referred me to many doctors for many tests. My neurologist could not find any lesions so the MS diagnosis was not given. My primary care doctor had to give reasons to my company as to why I could not return to work 6 months later. He sent me to a shrink.
Are you covered by a union? The administrative assistants in our school are in their own union. If so, you need to contact your union rep. They will give you the best advice on going after the director and how to do it legally and within your own rights. You may be able to also get disability under your union's retirement package. Just a few added thoughts to the rest of the great advice.
No, no union whatsoever. I'm gonna have to fight this battle on my own after I make some more phone calls to get some answers and see if I have a fighting chance. If I choose NOT to question everything that happened, then I don't have the right to complain and gripe about nothing being attempted or accomplished. I'm just biding my time right now and watching and waiting.......
I was recently terminated along with 2 others due to lack of work. If I had gotten the permotion given to someone else I would still have a job. The person made 2 1/2 times the errors that I made. I have six months of the reposts telling tis I feel I was discriminated again for my age and also the MS. I wasn't allowed to go back for anything in the 15 years that I worked there or I would lose my severence package. I've decided to file with the EEOC just so maybe this wouldn't happen to someone else. The lawyer I had talked to said he had never had anyone do this just because. I had already started gathering the info before I was terminated so I want to go through with it. I'll see and at least I'll feel better about it.
Thanks for your Reply!
When I asked for reasonable accommodation, my manager went to HR and the first question they asked was "do you want to keep this employee or not." And so began their papering my file to remove me. I had seen it happen to another employee with MS a couple of years prior.
A friend, a highly qualified person in the medical field, was similarly let go after experiencing a relapse.
A woman in my city was featured in the newspaper when the local school district let her go after they found out she had MS. Another newspaper story featured an employee of a national grocery chain who met a similar fate.
You are not alone in being treated this way. It is illegal, and unfair. But it seems to happen routinely. Discrimination? Yes. Can you prove it in court? Likely not.
A good EEO attorney can advise you on whether it is worth pursing a legal case, and whether the employer might settle with you.
A good psychologist or therapist can help you work through the many feelings at being treated so unfairly, and help you sort out what comes next.
For some of us it is disability retirement. For others it is a different employment setting.
PS, When I appealed through the EEOC, my employer's attorneys successfully persuaded the Administrative Law Judge that my case did not even merit a hearing.... If you do appeal to EEOC, be prepared for any manner of tactics against you/your reputation/etc.
Thanks for your Reply!
I "won" an EEOC suit which was based on a charge of sex and marital status 20 years ago. My advice:
If you make an EEOC complaint, and they accept the charge, it is a long process. Mine took 2 years. If you get to the Administrative Law Judge trial - get an attorney. You will only get a monetary award of what you lost, i.e. lost income, value of lost benefits,etc. since your termination. If you win, your former employer may be given an option to pay you over several months or years... So there is nothing quick about the process. Interestingly enough, I was terminated from my job 18 months ago, which was about a year after my company was sold. Having MS, and being over 55, I wondered if there was a correlation there. Since I can't prove anything, I am just job hunting and hoping for the best!
Isn't this a great country to have Law maker who past such water down laws as a front to make it look like they are doing something, when its ALL B.S. WE need limited term for the Congress and Senate. The ones ( congress & senators) we have now are all about me and they sleep just fine. When people work 25 / 30 years and give there best years only to be through out like use tires and our law maker don't even have the ( or conscience to do any better then then that is sad.
I worked for the USPS for years. I never got into trouble and I loved my job! When my MS got bad and I needed a cane to walk, the PostMaster pulled me off the floor told me I was "an accident waiting to happen!" And to "get the hell off her floor now!" I was w/o pay and had two small children to support! I was dumbfounded. I had to hire a lawyer and we fought for my job for over a year, due to the stress of it all, made my health worse, I finally had to drop it and file for disability! We lost our house and everything! The ADA doesnt cover federal employees! To this day I wish there was something I could do! I am just so mad over it all!
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