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Workplace discrimination

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced discrimination at work because of their asthma?

Fed up of having to prove that my asthma doesn’t mean I’m unreliable as when I’m well I give 100%

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I have a colleague who says that I am ‘unreliable’ and ‘over exaggerating’ because I have had three sick days this year so far. She’s very close and friendly with two of my managers so I’m not sure if this is the same thing however I have also noticed my shifts at work have been cut from 3 weekly, to only 2. I’m not sure if these events are connected 🤷🏻‍♀️

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Sorry to hear you are going through this, people’s ignorance towards asthma annoys me so much. I’ve had a colleague email me to ask if I have a contingency plan in place for sessions I’m running next week in case I’m unwell or can’t make it. She also copied in the rest of her team. Whilst I appreciate she may have a valid point, there are ways of wording things and would you ask anybody else if they had a contingency plan? Surely somebody could come down with the flu or a stomach bug or is it just because I was off last week after I got rushed into A&E?!

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I’m getting a letter from my doctor for my uni, but I’m going to copy it and take it to my work. I’ve had little bother with management it’s just this one clown of a colleague 🙃

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Aren’t people just a joy sometimes?! 😂 a little education goes a long way!

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Have had problems over last few years resulting in capability hearings where my job is threatened... I’m waiting for an OH meeting this week so they can document I am covered under the Equality Act .. it’s a tough game going through this but I’m perfectly capable as you probably are of doing your job with Asthma .. I just need a little longer of work to recover from infections and I take added precautions to prevent exacerbations when I can .. ensure OH are taking with you when needed .. and get all conversations documented ..

I don’t go of sick as often as I probably should due to the treatment I receive from my employer at times hence why I know I become acutely unwell at times ... I work for the NHS !!!! I’m currently at home with another chest infection but not due back until Friday so hoping i recover a bit more so I don’t need to book sick for the second time this year !!!

I feel for you xxx

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I’ve been through a similar experience with a past employer, thinking of you as I know how hard it is.

Luckily in my current job I have a very understanding manager, it’s just comments from other people and asking me if I have a contingency plan in place next week for sessions I’m running in case I’m unwell or can’t make it. Well, shouldn’t that apply to everyone as anyone can find themselves ill or am I just being singled out because of my asthma?

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It’s worth you asking them the question directly .. ask if any diabetics are asked the same in case they have a hypo ??? There is a form of discrimination which covers this so your managers need to be careful they don’t over step the mark .. and also is it appropriate they copy all the other colleagues in on this email ??

I think you would be justified to ask a few questions or they could land themselves in a spot of bother .. ??

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I think I've been very lucky reading this as I have generally had understanding colleagues/managers who have helped to accommodate me - though I have got more careful about stating asthma up front when starting a new job so I am covered by the equaliy act.

I did once have one manager text me whilst in hospital the week before Xmas and say I now needed to work the days I had booked off before Xmas, to make up the work I missed. Really annoyed and stressed me because I had booked those days off months before, could hardly avoid an admission and apart from anything else, the work she decided to then tell me about in detail would never have fitted into the days before I went on holiday even if I hadn't gone off sick, and had not been planned for then! She was stressed because we were behind but that was nothing to do with my sickness (was a wider issue). Nurse came to do obs just after these texts and my blood pressure had gone really high...

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Yeah, I always make sure I state that I have asthma so I’m covered by the equality act.

Can’t believe they did that to you! My manager is great, it’s just other people in a different team. They are only happy though when they’re being catty about someone so at least I know it’s not personal!

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Oh joy! Have to say mostly people have been good so I am lucky when I see some horror stories on here, with the NHS often being mentioned as one.of the worst culprits so an employer. Luckily I work in an industry that does not have those attitude problems but is science/medicine related so often people have more knowledge about chronic illness and asthma. My current manager has worked on stuff relating to asthma biologic.drugs and so I felt did appreciate what severe asthma can be like.

Sadly the building management company is less enlightened, so going to the toilet at work is still a risky game of Russian roulette with the air freshener...

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Yep. I lost 5 weeks to asthma-related problems last year, and so far this I've been hospitalised twice, once for 3 days, and once for 2. I've absolutely had a sideways shuffle at work, and although individually colleagues are really kind and considerate, there is a corporate culture which is at odds with any form of chronic illness.

One feature of asthma is that you don't actually look ill most of the time. Last Wednesday at this time I was in an ambulance under blues and twos, gasping and nebulised, heading for A&E Resus. Today I'm back at work, and people are saying how well and relaxed I look!

I've seen a few emails sent in my absence and you bet, the comments do absolutely make me sound like someone who only plays part-time, and according to one, I'm the "bottleneck causing a major problem right now". A direct quote from an email to a colleague, about me, from a company director, sent with no cc to me, but in the full knowledge that I would end up seeing the message anyway. I used to work from 7.30 am to 5.30pm, five days a week for this firm, even though my hours are strictly 9 - 5. Now I stick to the letter of my contract and am actively looking for a new job. The net effect of the corporate attitude to chronic illness is the utter loss of my loyalty and commitment.

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😱 I’m in total shock that you’ve been treated that way at work! Isn’t there anything you can do disability discrimination wise?

I don’t blame you for wanting to leave and for being de-motivated.

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Thanks RD23. Well, of course there probably are recourses to law, but in the long run, where would that lead? I'd spend the next empty-tumpty months locked in a legal tussle, up against corporate lawyers. The amount of emotional energy required would be huge, and I'd still have to leave, and look for another job at the same time. Better to channel all that resource into a positive job hunt rather than spend it fighting what would be at best a Pyrrhic victory.

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I am allergic to many things, including animal hair.

Although they were made aware of this, colleagues repeatedly brought dogs into the small office when I wasn’t there.

I had an asthma attack at work last year when a woman again brought her dog in.

I ended up putting in a grievance and leaving that job last year.

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I know exactly where you are coming from as i have the same issues and i work for a university but the department is Pharmacy!. I have a job which allows me to be able to work from anywhere and for a number of years there was an iterdict to allow me to work from home one day a week due to my chronic illness which was agreed between OH and my HOS. Everything was fine, my Asthma was behaving, my work was getting done. Roll on to 2015 and all this changed, a member of the department complained, upon not being allowed to work from home, that how come "toni gets to do it". Well rather than my HOS having the "balls" to turn round and tell this person that the reason I get to work from home is none of their business i was referred to OH again to ascertain whether i should still be allowed to Work from home. Needless to say the OH doctor i saw, desipte being told the history, advised because my asthma was under control i no longer needed to work from home. Yeah i can hear your gasps!

So in 2017 i was asked to go back to OH because my absence limit had reached its peak and this has been for the last 2 years. Shocker! TThe OH doc still didnt think i needed work from home one day a week but other "reasonable adjustments" could be made.

Nothing has really changed, apart from the fact that after a flair up i just come to work and let my colleagues see me unwell. But more often than not i look well despite not being able to breathe.

What doesnt help is that an ex colleague of mine has taken the school for 12 months of pay due to her chronic illness and i feel like i am being penalised for having a severe illness.

Its hard when you have an invisible chronic illness as you can look well and healthy but you are struggling to breathe. Wish there was something that could be done to make employers understand.

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Reading your post and replies on here leaves me feeling totally depressed. I have had similar experiences in the past, but not on quite the same level as you. I think ignorance is a common problem with "invisible" illnesses. People who behave like this generally just don't have enough imagination to realise how frightening it is to suffer from an illness like asthma that can strike out of a clear blue sky. I liken it to having a mugger inside your body, (oh, oh, it IS your body) that can strike at any moment without warning. I have had work colleagues say to me that it was a panic attack or all in the mind. Really....? I hope you come out on top, either with your collegues or another job !

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Thank you, same to you too.

That’s a brilliant way of describing it, it just suddenly takes hold without warning and leaves you floored.

I know Asthma UK regulate this page and I’m just wondering as so many of us have had similar experiences if there’s any more advice they can give or run some training programme for employers? I’ve been threatened with dismissal in the past because of the time off I was having with my asthma and I fought them but some guidance on what to do would be great

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Yes I have the same problem.my employer dosent understand that although Ilook well and healthy to look at. I am not. I had it really bad last year with asthma. I had to take a lot of days off sick because of asthma and then I have the added stress of trigerring my sick leave and being dragged for a hearing with HR personnel, and management and have to defend myself that yes asthma is a real condition and could be fatal .

I think that employers need to be educated in this regard that asthma can be a disability. And although I do all the right things like attending regular asthma reviews and taking all the meds. It is unavoidable and one has no control over it as my fellow asthma sufferers know first hand.

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Hi everyone, I’m saddened to hear of your experiences, albeit I am not surprised as I too have experienced similar. Corporate environments are the worst in my opinion, as they breed greed and envy and allow those in a position of power to abuse such power and trust often cause model employees to leave due to harassment over chronic illness. In my last job, I excelled in my role, none of my team could come close, however because I had a couple of weeks off in the year due to my asthma, I was then hauled into formal meetings regarding my absence levels and was made to feel like there was nothing wrong with me. What these people don’t understand, is some days it’s hard enough getting up and dressed to physically get into work when you’re having an episode, never mind having their mindless uneducated comments to also cope with. I agree education and raising awareness is the way the forward, never judge a book by its cover as you’ve no idea what’s going on inside!

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