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 Post subject: Am I overreacting?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
This happened to me at work yesterday :

First, for those not familiar with my situation, let me explain that I am severely allergic to peanuts and other nuts. When I first started my job two years ago, I explained the situation to my boss and to the head of human ressources. The smell of peanuts and peanut butter (whether it is psychological or physical, gives me problem breathing and my eyes itches) is problematic for me. They even sent an email to all my co-workers to explain the situation and asking them not to eat peanut butter in their cubicules. Ok, good. But since we have a huge turnaround rate (more that half the team that was there when I was hired are gone), I have to nicely remind people once in a while.

A few weeks ago, I receive a report from one of my co-worker and I am suppose to look it over and make corrections. Within a few minutes, my hands become covered with rashes. I immediately go wash my hands vigorously and use purell. The itching eases out after a few minutes. On my way back from the washroom, I noticed that my co-worker who handed me the report has a container of peanuts on their desk. Immediatly, I suspect that she has been eating peanuts while working on the report and that got on the paper and tha's what caused my rash, since I have not better explanation as to why I suddenly get this. I bring it up with her superior who says she'll adress the issue. Ok, she might have forgotten, it's an isolated incident. I felt threatened but I let it go.

Now yesterday, my boss, who is well aware of the problem, decided to buy some cholocate treat for everyone. Wisely, she bought some chocolate candy filled with peanut butter that she offered to everyone around me. When one of my co-worker said something about it not very nice for me, I hear her say and I quote : "Yes, we'll all make Patrick sick. HA HA HA!!!" I felt like I was back in high school beeing bullyed by teenage boys who thought my allergy was so funny. I really felt like ---- because this was done knowingly. It was not someone who was not aware of my health problem and it was not an honest mistake of someone who forgot that it could threatened me. It was deliberate.

The first incident could be I took the day off today to ponder things and do see what should be by next step. I am beginning to look for a new job. I am really tempted to quit. I don't feel like going to work today. I don't feel safe anymore going to work where people disregard my concerns so blatently. My wife thinks I am overreacting but since she did not have to live with that problem her whole life, I guess she does not get how I feel. So I'd like to know what other people here think of the whole thing.

Sorry for the long post but I had to get things into context.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:22 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:17 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Niagara region, Ontario
Youngvader,

I totally sympathize with you--how awful that you have to be constantly on the look-out for allergens. It boggles my mind how someone can joke about a life-threatening issue. That's like saying "Let's hide the brittle diabetic's insulin--HAHA." I can understand why you are considering a different job; you shouldn't have to work in such a toxic environment. What kind of job do you do? Would you be able to find a position in a smaller company with less people, or ever work out of your home? I wish you all best in your quest for a stressfree job. Good luck.

Soccermom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:58 pm
Posts: 275
Location: on my pc in cp
i don't think you're over reacting at all

i am currently stressing out over my job (nothing life threatening, just the trials of being a middle managment food service worker) and a very dear friend told me while i was venting that "no job, and no money is worth your physical or emotional health" it's such a simple statement, but so many of us forget to put ourselves first, because if you don't have your health (or the parts of it which you can have control over for many on this board) what do you have?

if it's feesable to find a new job where you feel safe, happy and healthy then you should do that

_________________
allergies - penicillin, benadryl, dust mites, enviornmental & chemical
conditions - dermatographism, eczema, well contorolled asthma
dietary - lactose intollerant, vegatarian


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2946
Location: Toronto
What a sense of humour that woman has.

YV, you're not over-reacting – this is a serious health issue, not a frivolous matter. But before YOU have to upset your life because of this person – do you have an HR dept? a union? a higher up.

In this day of tolerance and accommodation, such matters are not usually taken lightly if someone complains. (Fear of human rights commission looms large among employers.)

It is not acceptable in the workplace to mock someone's health issue or potentially put them in danger. If it were me, I'd make a noise about it. Why should you have to look for other work because this person is an insenstive idiot. She should be called on the carpet over it. Ideally, having to apologize for making you feel both unsafe and disrespected.

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
I would speak to your workplace health and safety commitee worker representative.
This is work place violence and needs to be taken seriously.

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychoso ... lence.html

If you are injured at work and due diligence was not taken, your manager can be found guilty and charged with a criminal offense under Bill C-45.

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/legisl/billc45.html

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/legisl/diligence.html

You have the right to go to work and not get injured. You also have the right to not be ridiculed. It sounds like someone needs sensativity training!

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:29 pm
Posts: 192
Location: Ohio
You are not over reacting! that manager needs a dose of reality and a swift kick in the bum. I would go to his/her boss.

_________________
Karen in Ohio mom of 7
Allergic to tons and tons of food as well as perfumes, scented air sprays and cleaners. Hubby to Fish, ds #2 Shellfish, youngest to Eggplant, potato, Caesin, Raw Tomato & spinach.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I think I'd recommend addressing the issue with your boss before laying an official complaint. . . .but I'd suggest documenting everything in case you need to fight this.

I'd phrase things in such a way that requires *her* to respond to *you*. i.e. I'd indicate that you had some concerns about whether you are still on the same page about the office policy regarding peanuts. You might mention that you overheard her joking about the peanutty treats making you ill and that that concerns you. I'd ask her to clarify what she sees as "reasonable accomodation." You might find that she said something stupid that she is embarrassed about now. If she is not going to be accomodating, the conversation would put you in a better position to lay an official complaint.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
I've been at my job for 2 years amd it's not unionised.

And in those two years, in my knowledge it happened twice, every time someone made an official complaint about my boss to HR, they got fired. So I'm sort of scared of taking any measures within the company unless I have a serious back-up plan, a.k.a another job offer on the table.

In the meantime, I called the workers's right commission and they said it was not in their jurisdiction, that I would have to call Health and safety commission. I'm still working on the next step.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
Quote:
...every time someone made an official complaint about my boss to HR, they got fired.

Yikes!

Do you have a Health and Safety Commitee at work? Can you bring up the issue without naming names? Just to inquire about the policy regarding nuts?

For more information on health and Safety Committees:
http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprogra ... atisa.html

Quote:
What does a joint health and safety committee do?

Activities of the JHSC include:

participate in development and implementation of programs to protect the employees safety and health,
deal with employee complaints and suggestions concerning safety and health,
ensure the maintenance and monitoring of injury and work hazard records,
monitor and follow-up hazard reports and recommend action,
set up and promote programs to improve employee training and education,
participate in all safety and health inquiries and investigations,
consult with professional and technical experts,
participate in resolving workplace refusals and work stoppages,
make recommendations to management for accident prevention and safety program activities, and
monitor effectiveness of safety programs and procedures.
Is a committee or a representative required by law?

A Joint Health and Safety Committee or the appointment of representatives is either mandatory or subject to ministerial decision in all Canadian jurisdictions. Certain types of workplaces may be exempt from this requirement, depending on the size of work force, industry, accident record, or some combination of these factors. Consult the most up-to-date applicable legislation to find out what are requirements for your workplace.


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Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:24 pm
Posts: 94
Location: Toronto area
YV - I don't think you're over reacting - and to tell you the truth, this sounds like harrassment to me - life threatening, knowingly and without regard for your safety. If you take this to HR and lose your job, perhaps your next step might be talking to a local newspaper - I'm sure they'd be interested in this human interest story - might not get your job back but sure would put your company in the limelight....and that employee would be exposed for the bully he/she is !!!!!

We've all been there in some form or another - not a safe place to be but unfortunately one that many of us face due to the ignorance and callousness of some people.

_________________
4 out of 6 of us nut allergic (mom & 3 kids) - hey, who needs 'em! we're nutty enough!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 323
(haven't been here in soooo long :oops: )

But reading your post... can't leave it without saying a few words to tell you you are not overreacting... you are in fact, not alone...

I started a new job 14 months ago. Before I got there, I had them post signs about my fish allery (anaphylactic to even the smell... so no choice to speak up!). After 5 years at my old job, I was A LOT nervous... and with good reasons! In the first 3 months, I had to get out from the back door many times... people hidding in their offices eating tuna sandwiches, others eating them in plain sight and many others "forgetting" :roll: . And I'm not going into the fact that my boss went up to the upper levels to offer my services to anyone who needed an employee as he did not want me anymore! (the reverse affect of job security... they can't kick you out so they sell you to someone else!) I had a few people who really got the whole "deadly" part and were really looking out for me... but there were soooo many in the "just don't care" category that it was getting dangerous and I had to rely on those that "got it" to stay safe...

I had taken a new job, a new challenge as I was getting a little bored at my old job and wanted a new challenge... well, within a couple of weeks, I was getting sick to my stomach only thinking of going to work!

After 3 1/2 months there, they found me a new boss. He took all the steps to deal with my allergies, prior to getting me to my new workplace. The floor has more people on it (about 4 times more!), but they seem to "get it" more. No more jokes like "hey, is that a tuna sandwich in my hand?" :shock: There are still some incidents, but no more of the "bullying" type... which helps a lot! I have the full support from our health and safety committe, I have people that look out for me and have a really comprehensive boss that has arranged to have my work set up so I can work from home when/ if I need to.

"Accidents" still happen, but a lot less. Like 2 months ago... on the day of my birthday none the less!... I was out at a meeting accross the street for the morning and as I was packing up to get back to my office, I got a call on my cell saying DO NOT COME BACK! Some jerk (pardon the word...) had re-heated a tuna casserole in the microwave and it was stinking up the WHOLE floor!!!! When a guy noticed the stinky smell smelled a lot like fish, he ran to the kitchen and asked the guy sitting there if it was fish... he said no, it's tuna! (no comments :roll: ) So a whole emergency plan got into place to find me and keep me away. Even asking the security guard at the enterance of the building not to let me in until someone could put their hand on my cell number. This was a pure miracle as it was a combination of 3 people who were at the right place at the right time and 3 that "got it". I worked from home for 3 days after that... psychological side of things :oops: ... but when I got back, they had had a huge meeting with all the staff, re-inforcing that THIS IS SERIOUS! and putting it mandatory for all new employees to be told ahead of time and repeated again on their first day (as if that big red sign on every door was not big enough :roll: ). But I do feel safer.

So all of this looooong story to tell you that you are not alone. Things can turn either way. Maybe talking about this situation with your boss and telling her how you feel could be something to try... I've seen in the past that sometimes, people don't "get it" until you explain how all of those things make you feel and how they affect your health... poor your heat out to the lady... she may get it... But like I said, it could turn either way... but I feel for you as I know real well how it can poison your life to work in that kind of environment.

Hope you can find a solution.

Mylène


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:42 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
Mylène, thank you for sharing. I am convinced that the reason so many people at this new job "got it" was that senior management took it seriously.

I hope that youngvader will be able to get through to his boss. Maybe the story of the student in the USA being charged with a felony for bullying with allergens will be an wake up call for those who think it's funny.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:23 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
http://www.ccohs.ca/newsletters/hsrepor ... #inthenews

Quote:
What can be done about it?
Victims of bullying should act quickly by firmly telling the person that the behaviour is unacceptable and asking for it to stop. It would also be wise to ask a trusted supervisor, manager and/or union member to be present. The bullied person should document everything by keeping a journal of daily occurrences and any letters, memos, e-mails and other correspondence from the bully. This information is important because bullying is characterized not only by the nature of incidents, but by the number, frequency and pattern of the behaviour.

If you are being bullied, do not retaliate. It's important to make it clear who is the perpetrator (not you!). Make sure to report the harassment to the appropriate manager or supervisor or, if necessary, to the next level of management.

Under all occupational health and safety law, employers have a general duty to protect employees from hazards that affect their physical safety or mental health. In addition, some jurisdictions have specific regulations that may apply to situations of workplace bullying (e.g. Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). Management's commitment is best communicated in a written policy. Since bullying is a form of violence in the workplace, employers should write a comprehensive policy that covers a range of incidents (from bullying and harassment to physical violence).

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
Thanks all for your sharing and your kind words.

As it turned out, I found a new job with a much better pay, better conditions that I started this week. In their office guide policy, there is a no perfume policy becausme many people are allergic. When I brought up my allergie, the human ressource VP talk with the president and they banned peanuts in the workplace... just like that. This new employer is a breath of fresh air compare to the old one... and my boss seems like a much nicer person.

Looking back on it, my old boss' behaviour was a blessing in disguise. I complain to HR in my exit interview. Not sure it will change anything but since I'm no longer working there, I don't care anymore. My new workplace seem to care a lot more about the welfare of their staff.

So all's well that ends well in the end. And soon, I will be able to work from home while still beeing a permanent employee since working from home is part of their policy. :) Really happy about the new job. After 3 days, I can't find any downside yet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
That's great! :)

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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