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Diabetes discrimination at work - advice needed!

Discussion in 'Diabetes Discussions' started by Rickmac1988, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    Evening all,

    Hope you’re good!

    Apologies in advance for the essay.

    So I’m reaching out for advice and to also understand if anyone has been through this before and what you would do in this scenario.

    I work as an account manager for a media agency and the people that need to know I have type 1 diabetes are aware of this.

    Basically this morning I encountered a situation which made me feel degraded, ashamed and angry.

    This month I got my reminder letters for my appointments via text, as you do, and emailed the senior members of the team to let them know my appointment dates and times. One was retinal screening which was last week, the other the appointment with a specialist at the clinic.

    So this morning I added a calendar invite for my appointment on Thursday at 11:30 and sent to the necessary people. The appointment actually coincided with is meeting with a provider which ran 9:00-13:00, however didn’t see an issue as I’d already previously let management know of this, so they were aware and send someone instead of me.

    No longer than 10 minutes after the diary invite, one of the directors (who is not even a line manager of mine) came over with no subtlety and said ‘what’s this appointment on Thursday’ (in front of other members of staff) ‘we’ve got a meeting on Thursday which I can’t attend’. I said it’s my appointment for my diabetes - now declaring something I like to keep private in front of others - and he said ‘can you change it? When did you find out about it?’. I’m there thinking well I already made you aware of it last week. I said I couldn’t change it and he was like ‘******* ****’ and you could tell he was ****** off. I said I can’t help that I have to go to the things, and he was like ‘yeh i understand but we need to think about these meetings etc.’

    So as he was going on I said ‘I’m going to stop you there, I don’t appreciate how you’re speaking to me right now, and I’m going to leave the office before I get any more upset’.

    I went and sat in the bathroom for like 30 mins wondering what has just gone on. On the verge of tears I was shaking and ashamed and annoyed.

    He emailed shortly after to apologise but I didn’t read it. Three of my colleagues heard this and said they were shocked and couldn’t believe his reaction.

    Just want to add in here that upon reading the ‘sorry’ email it was only to say he didn’t mean to upset me and still more of a rant about me not being able to make the meeting.

    I spoke to ACAS and they said this is disability discrimination.

    So I filed a grievance with HR as this is not acceptable. We shouldn’t be spoke to like that in the workplace full stop, and certainly not for having a medical condition.

    They (ACAS) also said I could take this further and seek legal action.

    What’s more difficult is I don’t want to go back to work to see him now either as I’m walking on egg shells and I don’t want to work for a company that allows this.

    What’s even more ironic is that it’s ‘wellness’ week at work and I’ve been made to feel degraded in front of my peers!

    So just wondered:
    - Am I overreacting? Should I just draw a line under it?
    - What sort of grievance should be approached? Formal/ In formal?
    - Should I seek legal action?
    - Has anyone been in this scenario?

    Thanks for reading and look forward to your responses!

    Cheers
    Rick

    Edited by Mod
     
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    #1 Rickmac1988, Jan 15, 2019 at 6:31 PM
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
  2. donnellysdogs

    donnellysdogs Type 1 · Master

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    If you have an appointment arranged then you should give your employer as much notice as possible to arrange cover. How much notice could you have given the employer to avoid this situation arising. Personally I would have been annoyed in my management days if I had been given two days notice if the employee had known earlier.

    To me.. I would consider giving as much notice as possible in future but note down this incident.

    As much as it is employers that have to accommodate and make reasonable adjustments. It is also downto the employee to give reasonable notice. If you knew last week and didn’t note until today.. then personally I do not think that is fair..

    You have said person apologised but you did not read. Is that reasonable? To me it isn’t. If someone has reached out to make an apology by email or any format then you should have the courtesy to read it.
     
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  3. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    OK, so my thoughts and I am not an employment specialist.

    I do not think you have overreacted - if someone has made you feel uncomfortable at work for any reason, it is not acceptable.
    Not wanting to defend the guy, he may not be aware of the diabetes, discrimination act and how it applies to diabetes.
    If you can get support from, for example, HR, I would focus my effort on this guy - making sure he is aware of your (and other people with disabilities) rights and ensuring you can work together - rather than taking legal action against your employer.
    A good HR person should be willing to facilitate a meeting with the two of you, explain the company's position with regard to their obligation to people with diabetes (and other disabilities) and ensuring he does not treat you, or anyone else, in the same way.
    To start this, I would arrange a meeting with HR to discuss the situation.
    If they are unwilling to assist, I would then consider involving ACAS.
     
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  4. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply, as I mentioned I did give them one week’s notice.

    Also the fact that they should not be talking about medical issues in front of others is another thing. Which is why I did not read the sorry email. Also didn’t want to reply without speaking with HR.
     
  5. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    Thanks for replying! That’s the thing, he does know about it and in a position of business director should know about discretion when it comes to this subject.
     
  6. Jaylee

    Jaylee Type 1 · Moderator
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    Hi @Rickmac1988 ,

    I've given notice to employers in the past regarding impending appointments, as a vocal formal notification & they've been cool.
    They've even looked embarrassed when I flashed the appointment letter as a sign of "good faith."

    This director may have seen the appointment on the shared calendar & triggered something regarding his own personal stress.? No excuse for his behaviour. However he has emailed to apologise.. He may feel bad about what he'd done? He's probably had his ear bent about his behaviour by a collegue.. ;)
    I normaly find when dealing with employers on appointment dates explain concisely that how the NHS works, they throw these dates up when they have them & unfortunately, I need to grab these slots with both hands if I am to manage a life long medical condition..

    Hope this helps.
     
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    #6 Jaylee, Jan 15, 2019 at 8:51 PM
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  7. DCUKMod

    DCUKMod I reversed my Type 2 · Master
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    On a more general note; whilst very unfortunate, sometimes we have all said something out of place, and depending on the importance of the meeting, and you attending, I don't think it's right, but I can see how that situation could have arisen - especially of he isn't your day-to-day line manager.

    As someone who has had lots of folks under my span of control, including a smaller number of direct reports, it's not always possible to remember everything about everybody, even when it's important.

    Who made the meeting and when was it made? Have arrangements been made for someone else to attend the meeting in your stead? Will that be unusual or uncomfortable for the clients, and finally, how important are those clients to your employer's business, in terms of the worth of their business and good will?

    I'm not trying to be difficult or unsympathetic in any way, just trying to understand how things stand.
     
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  8. Juicyj

    Juicyj Type 1 · Moderator
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    Well I'll be honest I would of reacted much the same way as you, yes his behaviour was out of order but he did apologise, unfortunately many of us have said the wrong thing at the wrong time, but as he's seen the error of his ways, then the noble thing would be to accept his apology. Around 5 years ago I was in an office with a new manager who hadn't been made aware of my condition, however it was brought up in an open plan office in front of colleagues and the manager then announced quite loudly 'oh that's the bad one isn't it' afterwards I felt humiliated, it made me feel my diabetes was a weakness and I left a couple of months later, at the time I was too embarrassed to say anything, of course now I know better.

    Take a deep breath, you can either make more of this than is necessary or just crack on with it and get back to the job, as he's apologised I would accept this and move on, but that's my take, you have to do what you feel is right.
     
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  9. Phoenix55

    Phoenix55 Prediabetes · Well-Known Member

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    In the past I have been an association rep (read union). One of the first things that the solicitor impressed on us in training was that starting a grievance procedure was rarely advisable, it was better to note the date, time and witnesses to the incident and keep the information for another process. Check with your local CAB or union rep but I think the same advice would still apply. Keep the email apology, copy to your personal address. I am afraid you may believe, as I did, that HR would be impartial; experience has taught me otherwise. He who pays the piper calls the tune and HR will side with the director. As far as you can let it go, your colleagues will not have been impressed with the display of temper that this man has shown and he is now walking a tightrope not to cross a line and be accused of bullying. Check out the bullying procedure and discrimination procedure of your employer, the fact that you ask for these after an incident will put HR and the other directors on their guard that you will not be treated in this way. Go back to work with your head up, you have not done anything wrong, why should you be ashamed or embarrassed by this man's behaviour. If any of your colleagues ask tell them the truth but that you wanted to be accepted on the evidence of your work not as a token 'disabled' person in the workplace. If you feel up to it you could even use it to educate them.
     
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  10. DavidGrahamJones

    DavidGrahamJones Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry to hear that you have be made to feel so bad, I have worked for a company that didn't think ladies should go for scans during pregnancy and I've witnessed veiled threats, an appalling state of affairs. Even as a bystander I felt awful for the ladies being criticised for wanting time off for scans.

    I've outlined the bit about him aMailing to apologise because I think that's the bit to hang onto. What he did was totally wrong and although an apology isn't really enough to resolve the issue, it's a bit like an olive branch. Perhaps you can see him privately, explain why you were so upset and see how it goes. If he is still an absolute idiot, then start thinking about taking the complaint further.

    All the best.
     
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  11. BloodThirsty

    BloodThirsty · Well-Known Member

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    If you really want to mess up your career path then initiate a complaint... either internally or externally.

    However, if you want to be successful you have to be determined and must always appear to put the interests of the business before your personal convenience.

    I know that it's a ******* platitude, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
    My advice is to man up, accept the apology any get on with building your career.

    My qualification for advising you thus is that before retirement I was a company director for many years and still teach part-time on an MBA programme.
     
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  12. tim2000s

    tim2000s Type 1 · Expert
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    I think your colleague's behaviour was very unprofessional, and they clearly know so too, having apologised via email. Having said that, the normal "fair play response" of someone bawling someone out in the middle of the floor is that they apologise in front of the room too, so they are being cowardly. You say should you draw a line under it? Then go on with further questions that suggest this isn't in your thoughts.

    Purely from a workplace perspective, and my own thoughts, while the behaviour of your colleague was out of place, I don't think I'd have raised a grievance. Personally, I'd have made sure it was on my HR file and I would have had a word with the person involved (especially following their apology). Having it recorded is the most important factor.

    I wouldn't be seeking legal action. Unless you have had significant issues as a result of your situation, it's a good way to make life in your industry difficult for yourself. Especially if you are able to take the appointment with no detrimental effect. Legal cases have a nasty habit of tarring the victim with a brush of "troublemaker", as unfair as that is, and it can make future employment more difficult. We don't live in a perfect world, unfortunately.

    Whilst I haven't been subject to this type of behaviour related to a diabetes appointment, I have been bawled out in the middle of the floor by a senior manager as the result of someone else's oversight. Whenever anything like that happens it's extremely uncomfortable and makes you feel like ****. Sadly it's also part of life, especially in any industry where there is a reasonable amount of pressure/competition.

    So take it as a learning experience. **** happens and we have to carry on. But also, you've learned that people pay no attention to emails talking about individuals being out of the office. Make sure that whenever you get information about future appointments, any other out of office situations, etc, put them in the shared diary as soon as you know about them. That appears to be the tool of choice for "tracking people" in your workplace, and had that been what you did in the first place, you'd likely not have had this issue.
     
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  13. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    Hi @BloodThirsty - cheers for replying!

    Suppose it's an age old debate really. Should we have to suffer because of ignorance and not stand up for ourselves, or sacrifice a 'career path'? To me, I don't think it's fair and I'll follow my passions whatever and for once in my life I'm standing up for myself and my beliefs. I also don't think it's about 'manning up'. I'm manning up by taking a stand and not accepting the situation.
     
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  14. KK123

    KK123 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    My own personal view is that taking any 'legal action' in a situation like this is an over reaction. From what you say it seems to have been a 'one off' event for which the person has apologised. I do NOT condone any person speaking unprofessionally to anyone else and of course expecting you to answer his questions about your medical requirements in a public forum is wrong. I am not making any excuses for him but to try and instigate legal proceedings is most likely going to end in defeat. Surely a better way is to accept his apology whilst making sure the entire episode has been recorded officially. That way if anything similar happens again you will then have a much stronger case.
    I don't know what your work is like in general but they seem pretty good when it comes to your appointments. I have to say that where I am they do allow appointments during work (they have to of course!) but they will discuss it if they coincide with anything that is important for me to attend, I can then choose to rearrange the appointment (hard I know and done VERY rarely). My point is that yes, it is a 'disability' and yes, you have the right to attend these appointments but surely a more flexible approach is better?, ie rather than a 'This is my right, here's my list of appointments and I'm going to it no matter what because it comes under the disability act', maybe a 'Yes I understand that on one of those dates it may be crucial for me to attend a meeting so I will try and rearrange my appointment' would be better. Give and take in the workplace (diabetes or not) makes for a nicer environment.
    Of course you feel angry and annoyed but being realistic, IF your work is mostly good do you really want to pursue legal action over this?
     
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  15. LeftPeg

    LeftPeg · Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to be blunt, but it's a gross overreaction. Accept his apology and move on.

    And in future, I would suggest you inform your employer of your appointments when you make them, not when you receive a 1 week reminder. That's what I do, and that's what the members of my team do.
     
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  16. BloodThirsty

    BloodThirsty · Well-Known Member

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    It's not a question of taking a stand... it is much more a case of viewing things from the company's perspective to see how your absence might have impacted the business.

    Sure, the director was rude, direct and unthinking but this is grist to the proverbial in a dynamic organisation. Witness the fact that Steve Jobs was extremely rude and prickly around his workforce to the extent that they were afraid to go home ON TIME.

    I'm afraid it's principals versus career and a young man such as yourself with a long exciting future ahead should consider wisely.
     
  17. Patrick66

    Patrick66 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Wow, this guy sounds deeply unpleasant and is certainly not acting in a way any responsible director/manager should.

    No, you aren't over-reacting. Its your business not his. Unless you want it widely known any medical information is confidential.

    I would try informal first but raise it to formal if the outcome is unsatisfactory.

    No legal action, at least not yet. Could be costly, drawn out and more trouble than its worth.

    No, I haven't been in that situation. I have several conditions that people know about and thankfully, I have been treated much better than you.
     
  18. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    Yeh agree there’s principals. However Steve Jobs was the owner right? This guy I’m dealing with has a director title, but is in no way anything to do with anything affiliated with running the business. He’s essentially a few steps above me.
     
  19. DCUKMod

    DCUKMod I reversed my Type 2 · Master
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    @Rickmac1988 - My reading of the situation is, an unfortunate situation arose meaning you could not attend a particular meeting with a client of your employer. It would appear the director thought that absence was unfortunate and undesirable. In apparently a knee jerk reaction he asked, albeit in a badly managed way, what was going on and if you could accommodate work in this instance.

    You got upset by events and took time out to consider your options and calm down. Director apologised.

    What more could he do? He can't take words spoken back, but I know from instances where I have royally put my foot in it (thankfully not with diabetes), that those situations don't tend to happemn again. He clearly realises it wasn't his finest hour, otherwise he's unlikely to have apologised.

    So what do you actually want the outcome of your grievance to be?

    I appreciate I may seem unsympathetic to your viewpoint, but as before, I am just trying to take an unemotional stance and look at the events as events.

    In my own corporate life I once raised a grievance against a more senior manager than I was at that time. Partly because of where both parties sat in the corporate food chain, meaning there weren't many too many people who could hear the grievance, never mind any resulting appeal. It took over 2 years for that process to complete. It was unpleasant, stressful and whilst I would never speak for another party, I know periods of my life were pretty ****-ish during it.

    It took me a very, very long time to get over that process, and I vowed I would never do it again, because the price was just too high and the political shenanigans was distasteful in extremis. I would deal with it differently.

    My suggestion to you, as if we were colleagues sitting having a coffee would be to keep your head down for a few days and let the dust settle. I might then be inclined to ask for a meeting with the other party, with HR involved, and try to have a discussion about what heppened - from both your points of view and see if things can be settled and move on.

    Over time, you may decide to look for another job, but don't forget references are usually required and whilst I am sure your employer wouldn't exactly write that you had been a difficult employee, there are many ways of sewing seeds of doubt.

    Good luck with it all.
     
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  20. Rickmac1988

    Rickmac1988 Type 1 · Active Member

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    His apology was only ‘sorry I made you upset’ so pretty week when you look at the context of it all. And of course he had to apologise to cover his back when it becomes a HR matter.

    Seems a lot of people on here seem to think this behaviour is okay which surprises me and you shouldn’t stand up for yourself.
     
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