Employment discrimination

February 21, 2013

I’ve been holding off on posting about this on here because, well, I didn’t know what was going to happen. And maybe I still shouldn’t write anything. But…who cares, I guess. So, almost TWO YEARS AGO I was terminated from a temp job because of something related to my RA. Since then I filed a charge of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights – which was a long, tedious, annoying ordeal. Just a few days ago I got my answer – my charge was dismissed because there is “No Probable Cause” of discrimination. I’m very angry and frustrated by their decision, however I’ve been told by a couple of attorney friends that it’s not surprising (they probably didn’t do a very thorough investigation – short on staff, short on funds?). Now I only have about a week to appeal this decision and I don’t know what to do. Is it worth it to appeal it? To go to court? I’m beyond broke right now and I can’t afford to hire an attorney. But what this company did to me is so completely WRONG. It infuriates me to think of them being able to get away with it.

This has been a difficult winter so far. I’ve been sick since Christmas, basically, with either bad RA flares or this upper respiratory thing that keeps coming back. I feel really whiny lately, which I hate, but I do hope some good things will start to happen here soon. I’m ready.

7 Responses to “Employment discrimination”


  1. Angela,

    I’ve been told the same thing by attorneys. It’s very hard to prove that discrimination is due to a disability unless you have it in writing. I’m guessing your boss didn’t say, “Oh, you are fired because your hands are swollen beyond recognition and I hate that.”

    I’m facing a lot of the same thing with my school situation, and I have a lot of incriminating things in writing.

    Whether or not you appeal, I don’t know what’s the right answer. But I do know that at some point, you have to let go of it and move forward.

    Being sick is awful. Being in bed for months on end is annoying. But at some point, you need to find joy and peace.

    Praying for the best,
    Abigail

  2. Angela Says:

    Hi Abigail,
    Thank you for your comment! And thank you for the support and kind words – I appreciate it. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve also had problems similar to mine.

    Basically what happened is that I was having a flare-up in my wrist (it comes and goes, right), so I wore a brace to work to help me finish a project. They saw the brace and freaked out and sent me home. Then told me not to come back. They wouldn’t take my phone calls and of course wouldn’t call be back. I never got the chance to even try to explain my situation. But right before I was sent home, I did tell the woman who gave me the project about my RA and why I was wearing the brace. Ugh. It’s such b.s.

    Anyway – I had an employment attorney look at my stuff today and then he emailed me later to tell me that he won’t represent me and to contact someone else. Okay then…

    Being sick is awful and annoying. But you’re right, you do have to find a way to get through it somehow.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    take care
    Angela

  3. R.A. Cellist Says:

    Certainly understand why you are upset! Unfortunately – being a working musician – I hide my RA. I tell people I have a sprain or a “little arthritis”. I don’t want to be judged as unfit to work by my peers. I will be the one to make that decision when the time comes.

    Carrying this burden is a serious strain and anxiety provoking. If I neglect meds, exercise, or healthy eating habits then I quickly become ill. I had 3 major colds this winter, and I typically don’t have any!

    One book that has helped me recently is Full Catastrophe Living. Finding a few moments of peace amongst the pain, anxiety and chaos is sometimes just enough to get me through a difficult time.

    • Angela Says:

      Hello,
      Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry to hear of your own struggles trying to work while having RA. Employees should be protected against discrimination by law, but obviously there are a lot of loop holes. It’s not right. You shouldn’t have to hide your RA or pretend that you feel okay if you don’t feel well. I’m so sorry to hear this.

      Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ll check it out!

      Thanks again for your comment and for reading my blog.

      Angela

  4. adrienne Says:

    Hi Angela, I work in HR and have RA. I am not in Minnesota and can’t give you legal advise but in my state your case from what I read would be very hard to prove considering you are a temp employee. As a temp you may have very little leverage since you are not a permanent employee. I am very sorry this happened to you. I like RA Cellist hid my RA when I worked full time. I was worried that if I got sick too much my employer would find an excuse to terminate me. It never happened but it was always a fear.

    What I learned is that my stress level was so high, I was making myself ill. Now I let things go and keep my stress level low. I weigh each situation and decide what I want to continue being stressed about. This keeps me much more balanced and healthy. So decide for yourself if it is worth your health to continue fighting for what is right. Maybe you will decide it is and maybe you will chalk it up to a life lesson or karma or whatever. Good luck to you!

  5. Donna T Says:

    I know this conversation happened awhile ago, but I felt compelled to reply. I am 52, have had osteoarthritis since 30ish, rheumatoid since 49 or before, thyroid nodules began at some point. I have had pain somewhere in my body for ages, but only until recent years did it affect my work.

    My old employer was very understanding (I worked in a job that gave me a lot of latitude, but no healthcare). When I moved and started getting treatment for my symptoms I was employed in the same line of work. It became very difficult to perform, climbing ladders, stooping, holding heavy objects over my head. I eventually got fired (not due to my health, my employer was very understanding on that issue). After being fired I fought the pain every moment of my day. Between the anxiety of being fired for the 1st time ever at 52, being unemployed trying to help my unemployed son and underemployed daughter, and fighting the family curse of depression (along with my daughter’s depression) the stress was enormous. My GP thought my thyroid was causing my pain and would not prescribe enough prednisone to get me through the day so I took my niece’s dog’s prednisone to be able to get out of bed and move. I finally got in to see two volunteer specialists and today have had half of my thyroid removed and have been trying to get my RA under control. On good days I know things are working because my osteoarthritis is painful.

    Now I am looking forward to finding a job again (I finally feel like I can be a “person” for more than an hour or two each day). But I have a creaky voice that is sometimes a whisper still from the thyroid surgery. Things are crazy.

    In the meantime, I have to sue my former employer because she owes me commissions, and there was an incident where she gave out my personal email to my customers. Nothing I can do about the latter situation, but I have to go to court to resolve the first because she will not respond to my letters for the pay.

    I tell you this because my point is that being positive is very difficult when faced with tough situations (I haven’t been 100% successful), but we somehow have to do it. I receive unemployment, food stamps, and I go to the food pantry to eat. But it will eventually be in the past for me (at least I hope so as I haven’t worked since I have been feeling better about my RA). I struggle with applying for disability because I don’t want to be disabled. I want to have a job and live better. I believe this is in my future. I didn’t believe it was just a few short months ago.

    You should definitely find out if you are getting the best healthcare advice you can. Read forums, blogs, about meds, etc. Stay positive. I have been lucky that I don’t get sick otherwise. My immune system is phenomenal even though I’m on some heavy doses of prednisone and methotrexate (no thyroid because I still have half). Everyone around me is constantly sniffling and sneezing and I’m taking care of them. This keeps me very positive.

    I let off steam at my last employer by wishing her flat tires while she’s doing sales calls. This may seem bad, but it helps me. And today, more than 9 months later, I feel like I’m getting over it. She drove by be the other day and I almost felt like I could have said hi to her. But that probably won’t ever happen.

    So chin up, things could get worse, I’ve been there, they have been worse. At one point I could neither get out of bed, sleep, or anything else. I couldn’t pick up a four pack of toilet paper without excruciating pain.

    Let go of the fight about the job and work on feeling better and whole again. Heal your brain.

    I will hide my RA from my next employer though. People don’t understand our abilities to cope because they don’t understand the commitment to working through all of this that is going on in our daily lives. We are the strong ones. Healthy people don’t have to be strong every day, but we do. But we are impressive when people find out what we go through every day to look “normal” to the outside world. We are survivors!

    You will be in my thoughts Angela.

  6. Marianna Says:

    I’m sorry that you’re having this frightening and disheartening experience.

    I’m also thankful that I never encountered this type of treatment from an employer, regardless of when I was teaching swimming and lifeguarding and then when I moved on to teach school.

    I would continue to work full-time, even in the throes of a major flare-up. It came at a huge cost to me, though. My life revolved around work and medical appointments. Suffice to say that I would use all the sick days allotted to me.

    Adrienne’s advice is spot-on. Learning and practising stress techniques is vital to helping you manage those flare-ups.

    I wish you well. May you joints settle, and you find meaningful employment with an empathetic employer.


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