So I Started a New Job Today

At a famous charitable organization that pops up every Christmas... And it did NOT go very well. My shift was 9:30 - 4 pm... And I was on my feet all day, literally. That wouldn't be so terrible, except that they say they do two 15 minute breaks, and they have NO break room area, and another girl and I had to STAND the whole time! No microwaves, nothing available... Not even a chair anywhere for anyone, or a table.

So I tell the manager... "I have a concern about just 15 minutes spread out because I have Diabetes and I need to test, and have a proper lunch."

Here is where things got really ugly. The manager pulled me into his office, and proceeded to basically go off on me on his frustrations about "sick people." "Sick people never say they have an illness during the interview... I know I'm not supposed to ask, but you're supposed to say so... And now there I am stuck with people going to constant doctor appointments all the time, and taking time away from work, and I have no time for that... This is not what we're here for. If you had done the same thing at John Deere you would've been fired... Why didn't you tell me, I don't discriminate against anyone... I'm a nice guy..." And basically really pushing me to give him an answer as to why I didn't tell him I have Diabetes in the interview -- and that he wouldn't have discriminated... that he would've hired me anyway! "Now I have to worry about you passing out all the time in the store, and calling an ambulance..." etc... :/

I didn't see as this needing to be a "proper accommodation" thing... Every employer I've had has had a proper 30 min break, and 2 15 min breaks on top... PLUS, all their other employees were constantly crossing the street to McDonald's to get soda, or food, ALL THE TIME! Not even during any scheduled breaks, of any kind! So I was really blown away by this... I desperately need a job... but I am in soooooo much pain right now from standing ALL day, and never getting to sit down for a moment. My back is killing me. I didn't even get to have a proper lunch... I had 3 bites, and scarfed some almonds down... And they won't allow my proper watter bottle behind the register, but a disposable water bottle is somehow okay. :/ I just don't get it.

Today... I feel so offended, and in pain... And I have to go back there tomorrow, again... Sigh. I wish I would've never gotten sick and lost my stupid job. :(

What can I do??? I want to try to hold on while I find another job, but I don't know that I physically will be able to... I don't have a car, so it's not like I can even go out into the parking lot and have a break in my car... *sigh*

EDIT: If you know or suspect who I work for, please keep it to yourself, or ask me in private (if you like.) I still work for these people and I don't want to get into trouble because this is out there, on the interwebs... :D

Hi Lizmari: I am SO sorry this happened to you. It is really hard to have a job when you are on your feet all day and can’t take appropriate breaks and appropriate care of yourself. I can’t think of any good suggestions at the moment, but you certainly have my sympathy.

Yikes, that is rough. I had jobs like that and it was always dicey, waiting tables. Currently I have a cubicle which is much more convenient. I feel too busy to take breaks most of the time but it’s very easy to test, eat, drink, etc. Not having anywhere to go is really unfortunate.

That's really unfortunate.

Were you able to talk to any of your coworkers? I'm wondering if they have any tips or tricks for coping with that schedule, which sounds difficult to handle regardless of diabetes.

My huge worry is not so much the schedule… It’s the manager! I mean, I dunno how I will juggle eating and caring for myself… but this manager… yikes!

Actually, you are NOT obliged to tell about any accommodations you need until after you’re hired. The manager sounds pretty ignorant. I wish I was rich, so I’d start up a business and hire you!

I was cringing as I read this, Lizmari, it sounds like the complete opposite of a healthy working environment for ANYONE, not just diabetics. I know you want nothing more than to say $5@^# you, but you can't because you've been out of work for awhile and need the job. The Manager sounds like a jerk, but I don't think it will do any good to get in an adversarial relationship with him. What I would do is play on his ego which kept saying "I'm a good guy, I would have hired you anyway." You might need a rest room break to go puke afterwards but if you can do that and convince him you will not be "a problem" and are willing to work with him to see that your "special needs" don't get in the way of why you are do a job, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, I would be looking at ways out. I know the job market is rough, but how about some kind of Community College or training program, that will enable you to work towards a goal of not needing these crappy kinds of jobs, or doing something you really enjoy? I teach Community College and many of my students are struggling in this economy, working jobs like that one, going to school and trying to feed their families, but they all look forward to when they will be able to move a beyond the struggle. Having a goal even if it is a ways down the road can help cope with that kind of nonsense, knowing it is just a means to an end.

Also you said there are two 15 minute breaks, does that mean there is no actual lunch period? I don't know about where you are, but in California that is illegal! I'm guessing there's no union?

Hang in there.

First off- what the manager said to you is not only inappropriate, it’s grounds for an EEOC claim. I recognize that knowing that is of little consequence. Now that you know what to expect tomorrow, go in as prepared as possible. Have snacks buried in every pocket. Pick appropriate footwear. Is there an HR person around? If so you should at least let that person know what was said to you. Granted, being a lawyer, I always think in terns of creating a record — just in case. That being said, I think you may find yourself adapting to the conditions. It sounds like a lot of this was a surprise to you. But now you are ready for it. Forewarned is forearmed. I also bet your endurance will increase rapidly.

I have a bachelor’s degree!!! A degree doesn’t automatically make one get a job! The competition is ROUGH. I had a real job 3 years ago… I haven’t been “dependent” on crappy jobs… It’s just there is nothing out there for people who don’t have tons of experience. :frowning: I haven’t ever been in a job where no one got a lunch period break… but alas… I thought everyone was supposed to get two 15 and one 30 min, depending on how long one worked…

Wow. Just about everything he said to you was illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That is a bad situation, Lizmari. I’m so sorry you had to experience that.

No HR there :frowning:

I don’t have any advice but I will keep my fingers crossed that you can find something better.

I think it's a rough job market for everyone, people with degrees and people with experience as well. No, I know a degree doesn't automatically mean a job, but it's something to build on, and certainly more than many people have!

Yes, I only know California labor laws, but I would have trouble believing that the two 15 min breaks (one for each four hours) and one 30 min break for 8 hours aren't law in most places! I once had a job where you did get 30 mins for lunch but you couldn't leave the building and were on call; for that and other reasons I didn't last in that job. I also worked one place where part of the job was to eat dinner with the clients; I successfully argued that that was NOT a meal break and that we needed 30 minutes to ourselves.

Gotcha. Yeah, the manager sounds ignorant at best.

Is there someone else you can talk to, such as your manager's boss? If someone like that is available to straighten your manager out and help you get what you need, fantastic! However, if you find that other higher-ups share your manager's poor attitude, I would take that as a indication of what the organization is like overall.

Are you familiar with the Taking Control of Your Diabetes TV series? Your story reminds me of two episodes, which you may find relevant:

They're also available in iTunes, if you prefer to watch or listen that way.

Well, I went on the ADA website, and the ADA site says making proper meal times for diabetics is a reasonable accommodation, and that the only things employers can ask in a job interview is if a person needs accommodation to perform a specific job… A lunch break isn’t a specific job! So he had no room to yell at me and make me feel less of a human being… Sigh. I have 180 days to report the situation. I am going to try my darndest to get another job in this town in that time frame… and report the man, perhaps… I don’t know.

Thanks. I just started, today! And I don’t know a soul. I haven’t seen anyone else besides him, there, and there is no HR… so we’ll see.

I dunno if I would even do that? I am sort of nutso but I will just haul my meter out, plop it in the middle of a file torn apart in the middle of my desk, test, grab a bag of nuts and some cheese or lunch (my two main work meals, although I will add 10-28G of carbs of pretzels if I think the weather will support a long run...) and keep slogging away? I have a couple of the free UltraMinis and will test just about anywhere. If I am 'competing' with 'straight' (non-diabetic people, not that there's anything wrong with that...) I am at least going to work more than them. I have a messenger bag/ 'man-purse' w/ my daily rations pretty much where I am and will just haul it out and take care of business.

Once, I was at a sort of hairy mediation, where people get together to hash out the value of a case, involving a public figure and a significant policy it was a bit odd but I was like "I'm testing" because that's what I do. The guy who went with me blurted out "he has diabetes" but I was like "ok dude, you just volunteered to be the 'good cop' because I am not going to wuss out in front of these guys since you just tried to punk me".


As a former personnel director and a type 1 myself, I sort of understand both sides of the coin. So lets start with legal issues. You do not have to tell of your disease before you are hired, and generally a 30 minute break is only required in a 8+ hour day. Oh and you are not yet seeking an accommodation, though, the employer woudl be wise to offer one.

So now lets chat. I always told hiring managers of my disease before I was hired. I did this for my own safety, in case i went low and no one knew what to do. I also informed my workmates of the issue and told them where my glucose supplies are located. I view my telling the employer as a safety issue, and even if not for safety I view it as a courtesy just to let folks know. Also, i figure if they don't want me they wont hire me and if they do hire me and then find out, they will find a way to fire me. I guess i am more afraid of being fired than not getting a job.

Now this is beyond that bit of advice, so lets make the best of it that you can. Standing for that amount of time would just kill me I could not do it. So my advice is to tell the supervisor, you are having difficulty and need a seat for part of the day. Let him know, if you cannot have one, you wil have to quit and supply your one month or tow month notice. you can judge this. Now, he may say you still cannot sit down, at which case let him know you are filing an accommodation request and let him know, you can let this go, if you are allowed a chair, I mean lets face it you have already resigned.

I say this for tow reasons. First you have an excuse for the discharge with the next employer and if he gives in so much the better. Now your accommodation request has to be filled out by a doctor, I am sure yours will, but remember until you file the paper, it is not a request. SO protections do not apply until the paper is filed.

Now suppose you are discharged, after you file your official request, then you have a law suit. Albeit, not much of one. I am guessing your modification will be accepted, especially if you have already given notice. I know i would accommodate it If I knew the person were leaving, I mean why not?

Let me know if i can help. I am familiar with these laws and have a sense of what is possible and not. i suggest that for the most part employers will avoid these issues if they can, or at least the smart ones do.

rick phillips

PS: I really am sorry this happened. It is a shame that when you get a little break you find stuff like this. If you had been at the company for several years, I wodl have different advice, but as a probationary employee your options are limited.

Liz he sounds like a boss I had back in the early 80’s b/f the ADA was there. Maybe he’s just one of those who thinks nothing is wrong with him so why should it be with anyone else. Sorry I have no advice just want to let you know I’ve been there before. I think there just some folks out there like that.