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When My Employer Suspended Me for Being Disabled

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“We’re suspending you, as you’re too much of a risk in the workplace until we decide what to do.” I was so shocked, I just calmly took the disciplinary letter.

I was working as an administrator for an engineering company. I had been there for six years and I absolutely loved it. I have muscular dystrophy, which is a condition where your muscles waste away. There is no cure (yet!) and it progressively gets worse. Unfortunately, I had been falling more due to my legs weakening and two of those falls were at work. I cannot get up by myself and colleagues helped me those two times. Very unfortunately, a lady who helped me the second time hurt her back while helping me up.

The managing director was unhappy about his staff hurting themselves because of me, so rather than having the decency to talk to me about it, he sent the HR manager around with a horrible disciplinary letter stating I was suspended until further notice. I’ve always been so conscientious and respectful that I just accepted this and blamed myself. However, when I told my friends and family they were appalled and disgusted at my employers. (I literally had to stop some of them from marching down there!)

To make my employers feel better about their decision, they attempted to change things at work, but the place was pretty inaccessible for wheelchairs. I also felt pressured to use a wheelchair before I was ready, and I don’t own an electric wheelchair yet so would have to pay for someone to push me around in a manual one. I struggled mentally with all of this, and I’m ashamed to say I just wanted to get out of that toxic environment. I handed my notice in.

I regret not having stood up for myself (excuse the pun!) more, but I just didn’t have the confidence. I do now though, and I am sick of disabled people being treated as less than. I have recently gotten involved with the Trailblazers team at MDUK, and I am hoping to continue to grow my confidence and meet other like-minded people.

It has now been a year since I lost my job. It has been a very difficult year in coming to terms with the realities of my disability. In a way my anger is aimed more at the muscular dystrophy than my previous job, but it still hurts how they treated me. It’s taken until just recently to realize I am worthwhile to society, and I hope my confidence continues to grow. Reading The Mighty every day helps, so thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences.

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Thinkstock photo by Creatas.

Originally published: November 1, 2017
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