Interviewing a T1 for a job

Hello all. I got wrangled into an interview for a scientist who has type1. And even though this isn’t at my site, I was asked to join the interviews because I’m also type 1.

I haven’t spoken to the candidate yet, she had one interview with her department head so far.

I did read through her resume and cover letter and I was a bit gob smacked. I also read the questions and answers to the pre interview questionnaire.

Maybe I am just weirdly judge-mental. Maybe I am missing something. I feel like I’m in a comedy sketch.

Her cover letter states.
She is a type 1 diabetic on insulin
She also states that she is obese and not well controlled.
Then says that she is protected by laws that state we must make accommodations for her because she is disabled.
We will need to give her extra time to mix her insulin and she will need to take extra breaks to eat.
She says she might need to get up from meetings to go to the cafeteria or the bathroom with no notice.
She added a page which indicates how she wants us to react to her if she loses consciousness or needs intervention.

In her questionnaire she comments about her disability and that she is a scientist so she is very well informed, yet uses weird outdated terms.

So I am tasked to,sit in on her second interview. I don’t know how she made it to the point because I would have thrown her resume away. But maybe I’m just too much in my own head about this.

I don’t generally tell anyone that I’m diabetic at work, unless it comes up later on. If I’m offered pastries etc, I just say no thanks. At this point most people know because I’ve been there 7 years. However I don’t invite anyone into my treatment nor would I suggest that I am disabled.

Am I off base here ? Does this sound reasonable ?
She sounds like a whack job. Or maybe my diabetes makes me judge mental.

The second interview happens on Jan3.
I need some grounding input here.

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I think that this candidate needs to be closely questioned by those she will be working. She needs to be a good fit with that team. Being a T1DM could be mentioned but not weaponized.

I mean, what are her real qualifications, and can she work and play well with others?

I worked for years with a T1DM who was smart and an excellent worker if more than a little opinionated. She never used diabetes as an excuse or really anything. My only complaint had to do with what she ate. It caused her BG to be unstable. Two diabetics working together on the midnight shift, one type 1 and the other type 2.

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It appears that she forgot to include that she plans to work mostly from home as it is more convenient for her and closer to duck out during the day to go shopping when she is not too busy texting all her friends about how hard she works and what a terrible day she is having. She will need to come in from time to time, evaluate and let everyone in the company know everything the company is doing wrong as she will need allies while she case builds to optimize her golden parachute as part of her lawsuit settlement.

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The world is no longer the world I used to live in. I’m not totally sure how it has changed, only that it certainly sounds different.

I had multiple reactions to your post, but I guess I’ll limit my questions to this one point.

I personally am curious what the heck she is going on about with this mixing. I suppose she could just be an MDI who prefers to mix her basil with her bolus insulin. Not something I did. I’d prefer just to do two separate injections to make sure there is no unexpected interaction.

But if that is what she’s doing, then I am confused about the timing. I would expect basil doses to usually be taken outside of work hours. And anyway, how much frickin’ time does it take to prep and take a shot? Why would one feel the need to clarify that in a resume? :confused:

What’s up with breaks to eat? Is the job in some lab situation where food can’t be permitted. Those times when I went low I just grabbed something and ate it at my desk. Would that be unacceptable in the job she is being considered for? :confused:

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I wouldn’t hire her! She sounds like she is taking advantage of having type 1. I wouldn’t hire anyone who said that they had an uncontrolled illness when the illness certainly can be controlled. I too wonder how she got a second interview.

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Yes so I think you so far see my frustrations and questions on some of this behavior.
This is a Laboratory position where food is not allowed in the lab. There are no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if I’m in there and I need to eat, I have to leave.
There are no accommodations that can be had in that specific situation. She will have a desk outside the laboratory like everyone else.
The mixing insulin thing was particularly odd to not only suggest she needs time for but also to bring that up in a letter is just weird.

I get that some time for bathrooom breaks or glucose breaks might be be needed. It’s the kind of job where you pretty much make your own schedule and get the work done.

Gowning and gloves and masks and all that does take some time and having to do it several times a day could be time consuming.
But no emergency food is allowed in the lab. It doesn’t matter if she is disabled by her condition. There are some things we can’t do, and a scientist should already realize this simple fact.

Because she is bringing it up in the interview process means to me she has already been through this situation and she wants this unrealistic accommodation.

The bigger question is, can we pass her by because her condition is not compatible with the job.? Or is it she has decided that she does not want to conform to the requirements.

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Well, OK.

It feels weird to me to be apparently saying the workplace is required to make an exception for her … for what? Her uncontrolled diabetes which may frequently (is that what she’s implying?) interfere with getting work done?

Why is it “uncontrolled”. I think we all know that each of us has a different personal experience of diabetes. So what does “uncontrolled” mean in her specific case? Hard to know how much accommodation might be appropriate without knowing more about the specifics of her situation.

Good luck with the interview. It sound like a potentially challenging experience. :fearful:

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I was somewhat horrified recently when @mohe0001 shared her own experience and was talking about her diabetes in the resume/interview process. The save thoughts apply here. I don’t think any focus should be brought to a disability… especially an otherwise invisible one!.. at this stage if the game.

It sounds to me like she’s trying to intimate her way into the job with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As in, planting the idea that it’s illegal not to hire her because she has a disability. But it doesn’t equate to having to hire someone with a disability because it’s illegal not to, even if another candidate is a better fit. The official stance of those doing the interviewing should be, “there is no reason to discuss your disability or medical condition further at this stage, as it has no bearing on your qualifications. Should you prove to be the best candidate for this position, then you’ll be afforded the necessary provisions.”. And someone should outright say that at some point, in case she’s recording and preparing for a court case. Because that’s sure what it sounds like to me.

Honestly, if you would not normally be included in the interview process, then I see no reason to be there now, as her diabetes is moot at a this phase where her qualifications are the question, and the only criteria for which someone can be denied a position. Your place would better be in a review committee when she starts making demands, if she were to get hired in the first place.

I have never had a scientist job that requires that level of clean room. My own career path quickly took me out of the lab and more into paper pushing with the FDA. I did work in the quality control microbiology labs of a few factories after undergrad, though. They were lab coats, hair nets, and bootie covers, plus whatever gloves/sanitation required for the various tasks at hand, but nothing extreme. Our personal belongings were close at hand. If I had an emergency hypo, I could have removed myself from the lab and gotten my glucose tabs out of my purse, and wouldn’t have ever felt the need to tell someone I was eating in the lab (Which of course eating is forbidden in any micro lab, but that’s my choice) I never once felt the need to discuss my diabetes with anyone, unless it was just casual conversation, or demand special treatment. I was on NPH/R, which sounds like she is as well if she’s mixing insulin, and never once required special time for that. I did it on my breaks, and it’s freaking fast to do.

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You make some good points. This laboratory is a clean room environment. It’s a drug manufacturing site. It’s a step up from the usual chemistry or micro lab. You can’t bring in a purse. And even your pockets are not accessible with a zipped up Tyvec suit.
I struggle with this issue because I am not able to take my pump out to see my glucose reading. I set up my watch so I can peek at it when I need to.
Most of my time is not in that lab. I have a more relaxed atmosphere with a lab coat and booties and mask. But I need to be in there sometimes.

The reason he asked me to sit in on the interview is because he doesn’t know how to evaluate her requests or disability or limitations and thought I could speak to them in her language so to speak.
I sat in on an interview for a mentally disabled candidate to help evaluate that persons ability to perform the tasks of glass washing. It was a very different situation he wasn’t asking for anything.
I feel worried about where it is going.
I also never heard diabetes is a protected class.
If a person in a wheel chair came in to work, I would have to say, there is no way to accommodate you in this environment.
Counters are high. Fume hoods would not be usable.
So I could just suggest he same issues unless that is breaking a law

I’ve done my share of hiring. . . Leaving the disability accommodation out of it, can she do the job? That should be the only relevant question. If she is already angling for the human rights / disability accommodations without demonstrating the capacity to do the work, that’s a red flag. Has she done the work before? Do references check out? Why did she leave that job? The usual stuff. . .

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I always say on the first interview. I have only been discriminated against once and that turned out fine. I realize that is not the question but that is my two cents on that part.

As for the candidate, this reeks of an ADA centered lawsuit by her. Yes the interview should happen, but no questions should be asked about diabetes and T1 should not be discussed. Also you need to be removed from the team.

Nor should she likely be hired. This is a set up and she knows it. Its trouble no matter what happens.

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I would highly suggest you NOT say that to anyone, because that comment could most definitely land you in court. That is precisely why the Americans with Disabilities Act exists.

It’s a difficult case to prove at the hiring phase, because nobody really has any right to a job they don’t have yet. Unless of course the person can PROVE they were told something like your comment… If they were to record any comments directed to them that the workplace cannot accommodate their medical needs, or perhaps if they could provide witness statements, then the judgement would probably be in their favor. Which is exactly why there should be verbal assertation that her medical condition is irrelevant. Her behavior and the way she’s leading with a medical condition, rather than selling her assets, is sending out major red flags to me, and I think you guys need to really cover your own assets.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (normally referred to as the ADA, but that’s confusing on this site) normally comes into play with existing employees. If someone who already works in the lab was injured and came back to work in a wheelchair, the ADA expects the workplace to reasonably accommodate them. They would be expected to lower the counters, widen the aisle ways for wheelchair access, etc… Or otherwise provide a workplace in which the disabled person could perform their job. Similarly, if this woman were to get hired, then the workplace would have to reasonably accommodate her needs… Just like they should be expected to reasonably accommodate YOUR needs.

That doesn’t mean she can make random demands and do whatever she pleases, though. It might mean that there is a sterilized glucagon kit that lives inside the clean room. It would be treated similar to the eyewash station. Emergency systems are different, and overrule any other rules in place. It may mean providing sterile bags in which a CGM receiver or phone screen can be referenced to check her glucose. As for daily management conditions, she needs medical backing for her needs. HR can speak with her doctor and find out just how much time needs to mix her insulin, and how frequently she needs to eat. The review phase can also include employer demands, such as she needs to use a CGM as she can’t bleed all over the lab or modern insulin, so long as the doctor agrees and there is no adverse effects, especially if it’s covered by her employee benefits. It also don’t mean the workplace has to accumulate her bad behavior. If she cannot reasonably manage her health condition, then she cannot safely do the job. The ADA does not protect anyone against being an unreasonable liability and a danger to those around them.

It’s really foolish to throw medical demands around like that, though. Especially to expect unreasonable treatment. (Reasonable is the key word through all of this.) It’s pretty easy for an employer to prove they had reasonable cause to terminate a difficult employee. Some states don’t require you to have any cause at all.

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@Timothy

Although I’ve been retired for 5 years, I spent nearly 40 years in a semiconductor fabrication clean room … but in a university, not in manufacturing.

Any class 100 clean room will have no eating and drinking rules and a gowning procedure that takes 5-10 minutes on entry and exit.

That said, in my experience at least, in a medical emergency, fire fighters and EMTs WILL come directly in without gowning …

I have three comments:

  1. I agree with other observations that the number one question is this person qualified and the best candidate for the job?

  2. I hope that there is a high-level HR person sitting in on all of this. They are best able to understand “reasonable accommodation” and should better help your enterprise avoid any legal issues.

  3. While I can see you being asked to participate in offline discussions with the hiring manager, HR, health and safety, etc about what is a reasonable accommodation, it does seem a bit odd to ask you to sit in on the interviews.

While I am both old and old school, this does seem odd … but anything that could end up as an ADA lawsuit needs to be handled carefully and properly.

Good luck,

John

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To build on this… majority of US states are right to work states—only 1 state (Montana) is not.

It’s a misnomer as right to work means fire your butt whenever we feel like it with exceptions of protected classes. However, that would still have to be proven to be the case.

Like yourself, I have never claimed disability as a Type 1 diabetic. Simply telling people that I need to step away to get food or take care of something medical has always been accommodated, and I’ve worked at numerous firms over the past 30 years, as a consultant or as an employee.

Most importantly, I would ignore her Type 1 diabetes pronouncements, as they are not relevant. What matters are her abilities she brings to the job. If there are problems in her employment history HR can find that out, and any questions about her diabetes should likely be handled by HR. According to the EEOC, if she has disclosed, it would be reasonable to ask what accommodations she might need, but she has told you that already, and in fact, her requirements are normal for most of us and not a problem, except the hypoglycemic incidents.

  1. I have an obvious disability. Can an employer ask me medical questions during an interview?

No. Except as explained in Question 15 below, an employer cannot ask questions about an applicant’s disability either because it is visible or because the applicant has voluntarily disclosed a hidden disability.

Job Applicants and the ADA | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)

  1. May an employer ask applicants on an application form or during an interview whether they will need reasonable accommodation to perform the job?

Generally, no. An employer cannot ask all applicants whether they would need reasonable accommodation to perform a job because the answer to this question is likely to reveal whether an applicant has a disability.

However, if the employer knows that an applicant has a disability, and it is reasonable to question whether the disability might pose difficulties for the individual in performing a specific job task, then the employer may ask whether she would need reasonable accommodation to perform that task. An employer might know that an applicant has a disability because it is obvious or she has voluntarily revealed the existence of one. If the applicant indicates that accommodation will be necessary, then the employer may ask what accommodation is needed.

That said, one might wonder why she is so adamant, but that is not disqualifying. You mentioned she is obese, and it is hard to know how much bias there has been against her for her appearance, and if prior employers treated her poorly because of her medical needs. Bad experiences can lead some people to act defensively, in advance of mistreatment. In her case, her obesity, her gender, and her poor control might have led to a conflict, one that she now wants to avoid. She has given fair warning, and the only concern about her diabetes is that she has had serious hypoglycemic incidents,

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I wrote a longish piece, but realized I wasn’t thinking about the work in the lab, but left it for posterity.

No, all requests do not need to be accommodated. Reasonable, yes, but all, no.

Since she has raised the disability and her requirements, it sounds like you can ask what that might entail. If any are strictly against legitimate protocols, and she is adamant about the need, then I think you can say no, but I would discuss your opinion with their HR.

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And remember, if you are deposed as a result of a lawsuit in this matter, you will be required to disclose this thread.

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Not dismissing what you say and agree just thinking about this from a legal employment standpoint. Is she being interviewed for a job or how she manages diabetes? Are you a medical expert (maybe you are) or just a dude with diabetes? I wouldn’t want judged on my diabetes by a fellow diabetic in a job interview and I think your employer would be on thin ice if ■■■■ ever hit the fan.

I’m with you I wouldn’t of said a word about diabetes in this situation. Just don’t think your employer is handling correctly from an employment standpoint.

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I think I have a slightly different take on this issue. I wonder if she might have had a bad experience related to her diabetes in the workplace. While discrimination is against the law it still happens, perhaps she is trying to head off problems before they happen.

I have no HR background but it seems to me that she is the one that has brought her diabetes into the hiring process and her expectation are a fair topic for discussion. As far as diabetes goes my questions would be to determine what she expects and whether or not she is willing to accept reasonable accomodations. If she is found to be someone that is demanding to the extreme she will not be a good fit in any work place.

You have been put into a tough spot, I suspect your employer is wanting you to provide insite into diabetes, what is reasonable and what is not. Banning all food in the lab is reasonable, refusing to allow her to leave the lab to attend to diabetic needs is not.

Before I agreeded to participate in this interview I would ask your employer what their expectations are of you, If your presence is there only to provide cover for them should they decline her then if I were you I would, if possible, decline to participate. I would not be the deciding factor in the hiring process. Be the one that advocates for both sides, be the reasonable one.

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“It sounds to me like she’s trying to intimate her way into the job with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As in, planting the idea that it’s illegal not to hire her because she has a disability.”

I absolutely agree with this thought. I also agree that there is no way you, Timothy, should be brought into the interview process. The ONLY questions during the interview process should be whether or not they can make “reasonable” accomodations for this person, and they don’t need you there to do that. If they’re looking to you for providing verification if any of her statements are true, that’s even worse…you need to stay as far away from that as you possibly can.

Frankly, I think they should not have brought this person in for even one interview, as this sounds like a set-up for a lawsuit. Of course if her experience was definitely suited to the job advertised, the company may have felt that they had to at least interview her, but putting all those requirements on a resume and a cover letter just sounds, absolutely nuts! If in fact she’d had bad situations before, she could have brought some of this up in an interview, not on her resume and cover letter.

My best guess is that you, Timothy, and your company need to figure out how to quickly cya to avoid having to defend yourselves in court.

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