Does your employer make accommodations for your disability?

  1. The working world is a strange place. You work in a zillion crappy jobs for most of your life, and then, if you're very, very lucky, you find the right job. You go along for a year or two, thinking you've got it made, being glad to get up every morning and go to work. Then....some life-changing event fetches you upside the head with a two-by-four, and you find yourself in the mud, sprawled on your assets and wondering what the deuce happened.

    In thirty-five years of working, it never once occurred to me that I would ever need the Americans with Disabilities Act. I never thought I'd have to be treated as a special case in order to perform my job at an acceptable level. Every workplace has its sad sacks who can only do day shift, or work in a single department, or work only a few days per week; some folks feel sorry for them, while others ignore them or even bully them.

    I just joined them. Next week I'm starting a four-day week because my company has decided I need more time off because of concerns over my mental health. I'm good with that; in nursing, five-day weeks are hell, and they wear me out. It's the reason for going to four-day work weeks that galls me, as does the fact that several people from the upper echelons have told me that they expect me to use the extra day to "rest and rejuvenate" (their words, not mine).

    As much as I'd like for altruism to be the driving force here---and there is some genuine worry on the company's part because they know me well and have always liked me---I've been on the business end of things enough to know that this isn't all about making Viva happy. It's about the fact that they see me as a potential ADA issue and need to show that they are working with me; if they were to fire me without having at least attempted to accommodate my 'disability', they'd be toast because they have no other reason to let me go.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the help, not only because I fear being 50-something and jobless in this economy, but because I really do like my job and want to stay there until I'm done with nursing. It simply feels like something fundamental has shifted in my work life, and it will never go back to what it once was. I'm branded now.....I'm someone who "needs accommodations". And that feels really, really weird.

    So, how many of you are working under similar conditions? Does your employer work with you willingly as mine is doing, or did they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century? What sort of accommodations do you need---restrictions on physical activity, time off for medical appointments, a quiet space in which to work, reduced hours? And how is this helping you succeed on the job---if it helps at all? Inquiring minds want to know!
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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,807; Likes: 43,960
    RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych


  3. by   NurseDirtyBird
    I feel for you. This is one reason why I'm afraid of being open about my illness at work, and why I work PRN. If I have to take some Dr. ordered time off, I don't have tell anyone about it. I suppose I accomodated myself by only taking a PRN position, so I don't have to worry about asking management to do it.
    Good luck to you. I hope it works out ok.
  4. by   mariebailey
    Not recently, but at a prior place of employment, I requested & received reasonable accommodations without having to go into the specifics of my Dx. I was in counseling once per week for 1.5 hours at a time. I had an 8 to 5 job with 1 hour for lunch. I requested to work until 5:30 (no commute, the counseling was in the same bldg. an elevator ride away) and take an extended lunch to on those days instead of using all my sick time.
    Last edit by mariebailey on Feb 18, '13 : Reason: correction
  5. by   Blue Roses
    I have a mental "disability" also. My old place of employment did not exactly make their assistance programs very avalible for us. I ended up having to quit.
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    Sorry to hear that. ^^

    The way I look at it, I'm flat out of options. I can't quit. I know what the job market is like, and for your average 50-something, it's virtually nonexistent. Particularly 50-something nurses who make good money, have medical limitations, and need "accommodations" for one or more of them.

    It stinks, but that's life.
  7. by   sharpeimom
    Before my stroke, I had epilepsy. I have had seizures since an aneurysm ruptured at age 13 months. I know well what my seizure triggers are and despite the fact that I remain conscious, can carry on a lucid conversation, and you wouldn't know I'm having a seizure
    while I'm having it, I really AM having one. With my most common type of seizure, it feels as though my entire head (or only one side) is in a vise grip. YES! That IS really a seizure!

    After my neurologist wrote a letter (on his official stationary, of course) my manager became very cooperative. She said it was because it was written on his official letterhead! Idiot!

    My request had been simple, I'd thought. Not to rotate shifts within any two week pay period because it really messed up my sleep schedule and caused a seizure. That was the only job where it became a forced issue.
  8. by   Esme12
    ME? I have not found the workplace so forgiving. I pray that it is not going to be true for you as well.

    ((HUGS)) my friend
    Last edit by Esme12 on Feb 18, '13
  9. by   RNperdiem
    I did work with one nurse who was on light duty during a high risk pregnancy.
    She was a well-respected nurse and a "star" player. Being a nurse the employers wanted to retain was probably a factor in her accomodations as well as the temporary nature of the pregnancy.
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    "Making reasonable workplace accommidations" as a manager in home care Central Intake office I've accommodated multiple staff over the years:

    One RN works every other weekend + few weekdays to allow her to be home for childcare.
    Obtained sound amplyfying dual ear headphone
    Moved staff workstation location to allow for more natural light or less glare

    Despite our office being relocated to another floor due to growth and no one mentioned work issues, I've fought for several staff (with doctors note) to have standing workstations -cost $350.00/each for change.

    Had field visiting RN who unexpectedly lost drivers license due to moving be reassigned to my office for 3 months so she could continue to work as bus route outside office complex.

    Accommodate Light Duty RN's periodically to do RN referral review.
  11. by   Ginger's Mom
    Viva, I see you are realistic but take this opportunity to take care of yourself. turn off that phone and rest. if they wanted to get rid of you they could make it immpossible to do your job.
  12. by   monkeybug
    I don't require any accomodations at my current job. The exponential reduction in stress that came with the new job has made my illness much more bearable. At my old (hospital) job there were accomodations, but they were made very grudgingly and I had to hear a lot about it from other nurses and the managers. I was allowed more than the normal number of absences. My doctor wrote a note for me not to have to work nights. I was told that this was impossible in my unit, but that I could move to a different (much less pleasant) unit. I refused and stuck it out until a day shift slot came open. I would occassionally get floated to work with babies, and the bili bed lights would cause me serious neuro issues. I had a note saying I couldn't care for babies under bili lights, nor could I be in close proximity to them. It was a fight every time I got floated. The last time, I got in a shouting match with the charge nurse. What part of "no bili lights" could they not understand? Apparently, to their way of thinking, I could do it if I really wanted to. I could turn off the lights when caring for the baby, or just turn my back to them.
  13. by   Ruby Vee
    I haven't had to have accomodations yet, but the day is coming when it will be either that or go out on disability. So far, my manager has been tolerating my issues with good grace. I know I'm a valuable employee due to my ability to teach classes and precept, but I also know that my bad back is a real challenge. The nurses I work with have taken up some of my slack, for which I am profoundly grateful. *I* know that I'm also taking up some of theirs because I can answer their questions, teach them how to do procedures they've never done and help them troubleshoot recalitrant equipment, but sometimes new nurses don't see that side of the equation.

    To be fair to my manager, who I like, I've seen her get burned in the past by nurses who've requested an accomodation just because. Two nurses claimed that they couldn't work nights due to health issues, were put on permanent days, and then bragged about how they put one over on the manager (and the rest of the staff, who had to work their share of the night shifts.) One guy hurt his back moving furniture on the weekend, dragged himself into work and then claimed that he'd injured himself five minutes into his shift pulling up a patient and submitted a claim for workman's comp. He's now trying to claim total disability, but somehow pictures of him mountain biking have surfaced. Those individuals are particularly dispicable because they ruin things for the people who really want to work but need accomodations.
  14. by   paradiseboundRN
    I have had mutiple back surgeries due to herniated discs. Now, I have chronic back pain and belong to a pain management program. Until recently I was an RN contingent field nurse in home health and I didn't need any special consideration from the management. A couple of months ago, I took a new job which was supposed to be an 8:00-4:30, 8 hour/day desk position with a very large home care company. I didn't tell my manager about my back because it never affected my work before. Unfortunately, within 2 weeks of starting, I found out that it was actually a 10 hrs/day salary position. I started having terrrible back pain sitting in that chair 10 hrs day. I did get a doctors note that my manager really did not want to honor and HR didn't know what to do with it. My manager decided that I should work 10-6:30 pm because we were busier later in the day. Of course, I stll wasn't able to leave at 6:30 and became good friends with the cleaning crew. This was not the job I agreed to! So, I resigned and now I'm going back to school for a higher degree hoping that I'll have more job choices. You are lucky that your employer is accomadating you.