Friday, May 11, 2012

Disabilities and work.

            I had an interesting discussion at work today with my my coworkers. I have only been working with most of them since December. I was asked by a coworker at lunch if they felt the disabled people in this country were treated fairly. I would have to defiantly say no. Sadly in the experiences I have had so far they have not been very good. I went on an interview in August of last year and decided to take Duchess my service dog with me. I made this decision because several service dog teams said they always take their dogs with them on interviews. I show up to the interview with my resume in hand and references just in case. I was dressed in my suit and ready to interview. I arrived and introduced myself as I normally would at an interview.                                                            

              I sat down at the table with the gentlemen who started the interview but I noticed that he would not even look me in the eye. I had a feeling that this interview was not going to go as I had planned. He asked me very general questions about my experience. Never touched much on my previous work history. He was done in less than 5 minutes. I asked several questions and I was done with the interview in less than 15minutes. I never heard back from them as I expected. The man decided that once he saw Duchess I would not be capable of doing the job. When in reality I was really over qualified technically. After that experience I went to my College's disability office and asked the disability advocate what is the best procedure for interviews. She told me leave the dog home or have a person waiting with your service dog in the car. She said people do not usually want to hire someone with a disability and since mine is not visible I can hide it well. She said once I accept a job offer right before I start talk to the HR to disclose my disability to get the required accommodations.
              When I contacted the disabilities office at my current workplace they actually advised me not to tell my supervisor or manager what my health condition is. The advised me to tell a coworker I felt comfortable with about my condition in case of emergency. There is several people at work who have volunteered to learn what to do in case of an emergency. I know my new work were so nervous of having a service dog at work and the disabilities office called me and asked what my policy on petting and such. They went and did a training about not touching service animals, and other etiquette rules to follow. All of these aspects have really made working in my current department wonderful. In fact they all love having her around.

              I think there is such a negative stigma with disabilities most people won't even give a person a shot. The most interesting article published last year stated that on average a disabled employee's tend to miss less days than there healthy coworkers. Quite interesting when you think about it. I know I had an uphill battle when I finished up some of my schooling and had to go back to work and I got really lucky to work in a great department who lets me make up time for spent at Dr. appointments and not use my sick leave. They seem to really understand that my appointments are important to keeping me healthy and at work. My last job before I went back to college harassed me about going to appointments. I ended up missing time because they did not want me to go. I have learned quite a bit from my experiences. I know many people have wonderful experience where they are open about them being diabetic but this way seems to be working for me.                                           

              I hope the stigma with disabilities will wain away over time but it can be really hard to say if it will or not. I know we have a long way to go from my perspective but there is at least some laws that have helped to at least make things easier for now. I still find it easier at this point to deal with it the way I have. I know my employer knows I have diabetes because Duchess had a diabetic alert dog patch but her new vests just states medical alert dog patch. I find that not telling my supervisor and manger what my appointments has helped me this time around. I plan on blogging about my previous experience at the same employer was a nightmare I will blog about that soon.

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