Being Diabetic is NOT Grounds for Being FIRED
I got a phone call from my darling daughter out in the Great State of Michigan this afternoon and I was very dismayed by the conversation. Miss Nicole was so darn happy to finally get a real job out there last week and now it’s in jeopardy because of a ‘manager’ who was never given a course in Labor Laws. I blame Tim Horton’s Corporate for that. I blame the manager for her ignorance. Let me explain.
Miss Nicole spent, I believe, her second day on the job today, happy to go to work, happy to help customers even though the job isn’t the greatest in the world. She’s just happy to HAVE a job! She fueled up on TWO bowls of Wheat Chex this morning and went to work. As happens with donut shops (I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts here in Connecticut so I know all about those) she expended a lot of energy and felt herself starting to ‘go low’. She told the manager what was happening and that she needed to run to the back room to do a quick blood test and possibly woof something down to prevent the ‘low episode’ from getting worse. The manager, in all of her ignorance, told her: NO, there’s too many people, I need you here.
Of course, the ‘low episode’ got worse resulting in Miss Nicole feeling as though she was going to pass out on the floor in front of everyone BUT Miss Nicole caught herself and all was well. UNTIL the manager told her: “Don’t worry about your hours for the rest of the week.”
For those of you who don’t deal with diabetes, the above is akin to telling a kindergartner who took a huge gulp from the water fountain they can’t go to the bathroom and then getting angry when they keep telling you they really have to ‘go’ until they wet their pants. It’s easily avoided with a tiny bit of knowledge of human anatomy and a wee bit of compassion. AND, it takes less than a minute to be able to completely avoid. But, more than that, what the manager did and is trying to do is 100% ILLEGAL under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Totally. Utterly. It is irrefutable under every conceivable circumstance. I don’t care what that manager mis-thought. I don’t care what that franchise owner’s ‘policy’ is. I don’t care what Michigan State Law may be. I don’t even care what Tim Horton’s Corporate policy is. A Federal Act trumps them all. Every single time.
However, I am very proud of my daughter who recognized the signs of her chronic condition and did everything she could do to help herself and continue working at her job. It’s not her fault the manager is ignorant, that’s the manger’s short coming and possibly (no, probably) the fault of whatever training she may–or may not–have received at any given point. Certainly the woman has never been given even a rudimentary course in Labor Laws.
Miss Nicole has been a Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic since she was 10. She knows her body better than anyone else ever will. She should have not only been heard but listened to and understood when she approached her manager letting the woman there was a potential problem. The manager ignored her. That’s on the manager. So when Miss Nicole called me looking for back-up, after all I do have ALL that LAW experience and I can read and I work for a Union so…Labor Laws, kinda my thing here, more so than the manager any day of the week, I reassured her that under the Americans With Disabilities Act they COULD NOT FIRE HER for her medical condition. They COULD NOT LESSEN HER HOURS. In fact, they WERE SUPPOSED TO ACCOMMODATE HER. They failed to do so. I explained everything to her as calmly as possible even though my blood was boiling and all I really wanted to do was make the 800 mile trip out there and give that manager some lessons Corporate never bothered with.
In the end, Miss Nicole sighed and told me that I was right. She’d looked it up on the Internet but was just looking for back up because, after all these years, she DOES NOT CONSIDER HERSELF ‘DISABLED’. “Being diabetic is just part of who I am, mom.” To that I wanted to cry. It is part of who SHE IS, like it or not, and trust me nobody dislikes it more than she does. I wanted to cry because I was proud of her to the point that my heart swelled. She’s worked her ass off to do her best to overcome her chronic medical condition and she’s succeeded. It’s time the rest of the world caught up with her.
So, should the manager at Tim Horton’s decide to FIRE HER I will be very proud to stand by her side as she sues the manager, the franchise owner, and Tim Horton’s Corporate. I told her in no uncertain terms that if they fire her over it, she’s to look the manager in the eye, smile, and tell her; “I’m going to the Labor Board now because what you’re doing is illegal under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which is Federal Law. I’m going to lodge a complain against you personally, the franchise owner, and Corporate. Then I’m going to start legal proceedings to SUE each one of you individually and collectively.” Then she’s to walk out and not look back.
Corporate will almost immediately want to settle just to make it go away. Tim Horton’s sucks! They couldn’t make it here in Connecticut and nearly every single one of their shops closed within two years of opening. They don’t need or want the bad publicity. The manager, however, since the suit will be brought ‘individually and collectively’ will be in a hole so deep for the rest of her natural life she’ll never crawl out of it. Neither will the shop (franchise) owner.
So here’s the Lesson of the Day, folks: A little training and a smidgen of compassion combined with understanding goes a very long way. If you can’t manage that….the law allows for remedies. Ones that aren’t very pleasant under these circumstances. So the next a diabetic employee comes to you and says they have a problem with their blood sugar levels you have two choices: Accommodate them for 3 minutes and keep a valuable employee who wants to work for a living or take your chances in Court.