Workplace Discrimination?

I could write a book!

What is unique about my story is that I have been part of the management team in these corporations.

I always disclose because my Type 1 Diabetes is in the 2% of difficult to control. Extremely brittle (I know people don"t like that word). I made my request for reasonable accommodation up front: flexible scheduling for dr appt, meds, snacks, meals, and hypoglycemia. This was a condition of my accepting employment.

Before switching to an Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor 4 years ago, I was on Intensive Insulin Therapy with 8 insulin injections per day.

In the 80's I heard, "Gosh, can't you just eat more in the morning?" This was my boss expressing her frustration that I needed to eat lunch 5 hours after arriving at work. She used to tell me to take over the cash register and tell people to watch me as I slipped into an insulin reaction and began to shake and sweat and lose the ability to count the money. Then she would laugh and say, OK go ahead. Take your lunch break.

In the 90's there was a VP who told me that I made people uncomfortable when I would say, "I need to eat," then pace back and forth during an insulin reaction. This same person also said, " You are a Worker's Comp Case waiting to happen." and "We feel that your Diabetes is a weakness."

In 2009 a Human Resources Manager said," OK so you are saying that your blood sugar is low and you can't drive an hour to the office with it at 35, but we are having trouble understanding why you can't work from home by logging on to our system remotely, monitoring sales, preparing reports, and participating in conference calls during that time."

That was my last full time job in corporate America. I am now on SSDI

I fully realize that I had legal avenues to help me, but as part of the management teams of all of those companies, I was fully aware of how they really felt about anyone needing an accommodation. It wasn't worth the additional headache to pursue them. 

I understand fully what you are talking about, I too was in similar positions. I was one or the product engineers for a.t.&t. I was always on the road between my city and Bell Labs doing design work. I had enough time from Saturday and Sunday evening to do laundry then back on a flight. One of these trips I was going through town, about 30 minutes away from my house, I felt an insulin reaction starting, and as you know by that time it is panic mode, I found this restaurant that was open early Sunday afternoon, and it was miles from any other place. I sat down and ordered dessert first, then the meal.  As soon as I was recovered, I wrote my manager to inform him of what happened, because the only thing I had was my travel credit card, (this was before atms) and while it was ok to do that, they needed to know as soon as possible. Several months later, the managers did the round robin and I had a new manager, she proceeded to end my career with the company because I had used the card for personal business, telling her the situation and rules of the previous manager did no good, I was terminated from that job. For being diabetic.  I have several other positions although different circumstances, was let go for having diabetes. I learned that if I am going to have dice rolled for me, was not the best plan, I would rather roll my own dice. So I don't share that information unless I have no choice, and then only to a very limited size.

I know this happens but honestly it’s appalling to me that it does! I have never experienced something like this in my working career. All the jobs I had were very accommodating of my diabetes. It’s just so hard for me to wrap my head around all of these posts! I feel horrible you guys had to go through all of that!

I've not experienced anything like this either, and I had a point about 12 years ago before getting my pump when I had a couple severe lows at work.  It was a temp job, yet they still shelled out a bunch of money to keep me on contract for the duration of the project.    

I'm concerned theresamd that your diabetes keeps you from working.  Is there really no job you're capable of?  I'm definitely one of those people that doesn't buy the brittle label... every low is preventable if you use a pump, take the time to carb count, and monitor your blood sugar.  Where are you struggling with your control?  What have you done to fix the problem?  

My diabetes control has been everywhere from appalling to great.  I am a jack of all trades and master of none so I've had a ton of different jobs.  But I've never been fired from any of them or had my diabetes seriously affect my job performance: grocery store clerk; camp counselor; dorm resident assistant; secretary; bartender; hotel meeting sales person; conference planner (I traveled 40 weeks a year); theatre set carpenter, production floor manager, stage manager; office temp; executive assistant; telephone system trainer.  The only job I was fired from was working on an assemby line... not diabetes related, I was just terrible at the job and got motion sickness from the assembly line!

jennagrant, thanks for your concern. I should clarify. I was never fired from any of my jobs. I was perfectly capable of meeting objectives and always did. I worked 10-12 hour days. I managed teams of 6-40 people. I did what it took to get the job done. I was both competent and successful.  That is what makes it discrimination.  The person who hired me was always OK with my reasonable accommodation request. In most cases, I did so well that my boss was promoted and someone else took their place. Those individuals who took over simply felt the fact that I needed to eat or go to frequent doctor's appointments a nuisance. There was nothing wrong with my work. That was never an issue.  Some of them were simply uncomfortable with the "idea" of diabetes.  I enjoyed a six figure income with excellent benefits within the last 15 years of my management career, so believe me, it was very difficult to walk away from that lifestyle.

I have been told that the severity of the swings in blood sugar from high to low should cause convulsions and doctors can't explain why I am not having seizures.  I have several complications that add to the difficulty in managing my Type 1 Diabetes. Most significant is Diabetic Gastro-Paresis, which I had never heard of until I was diagnosed with the condition. There are times when my stomach emptying is so delayed that while I am eating, my blood sugar plummets into severe hypoglycemia. This is unpredictable and after more than 14 years on the maximum dose of Reglan, it is no longer effective. I assure you that I have been seen by my Endocrinologists every 2-4 weeks since the mid 80's. I have to carb count and enter that into my insulin pump for it to calculate the Bolus dose. In the case of my last full time job, I had just gotten my insulin pump  and Continuous Glucose Monitor about 6 weeks before I left.

Long term, my biggest challenge has always been hypoglycemia during my sleep. Last night, I went to sleep with a 350 blood glucose at midnight. Did no bolus. Then woke up with a 47 blood glucose at  5am.  My Endocrinologists make frequent adjustments to my Basal dosage. I also do Temporary Basal adjustments. I am simply in the 2% of Type 1's that are difficult to control.

By the way, when I got my insulin pump it included literature with facts and fiction about insulin pump therapy. It included the fact that insulin pumps will not stop you from having hypoglycemia, in fact if you are seeking tighter control, you may experience more frequent lows. I have always tested 8 times a day. I give credit to my Continuous Glucose Monitor for keeping me alive, as if it weren't for the alarms going off, I might not catch one of my lows or highs fast enough.  I hope I've answered your questions.

The gastroparesis makes total sense.  It makes it impossible to dose insulin and causes unpredictable highs and lows.  I don't see how you could work, especially a high stress job, with GP.  I've only personally known one person with it and he was retired, but in overall good health.  He had to move from our rural area to be closer to a hospital since the GP caused severe, impossible to predict lows.  

I know pumps always have the warning label that you can have more frequent lows, but research shows that they're effective at reducing hypoglydemia (see the Google links below).  They still "cause" hypoglycemia because they deliver insulin, but at a lower rate than multiple daily injection.  

Unfortunately they can't do much for your situation.  Sorry you're having to deal with GP.