This honestly is a perfect example of a day in the life of someone allergic. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who is upset, and doesn’t know what to do about it.
She has a job, and she’s good at it. She works hard, pulls her weight, and will help out others if they need it. I know from having worked with her myself that she’s a great co-worker.
She just has one little idiocyncrasy. She’s violently allergic to cinnamon. Just a small dose of it can send her to the ER. Just a touch of it in the air can cause her to be unable to function like a normal human being (comparable to someone having smoked way too much weed). In both cases, her detox symptoms, symptoms of her body healing from a reaction, include irrational thought, panic attacks, paranoia, and anti-social behaviors. The more severe the reaction; the more severe the detox symptoms.
Since cinnamon is in a lot of places from candles, airfresheners, and foods cooking, she takes anti-anxiety meds daily as a preventative measure. She also carries benadryl with her 24/7.
She does her part to stay safe, but she has to work. She works in an office. Office environments should be simple enough to work in without food problems. McDonald’s, or restaurants, it’d be pretty impossible to avoid foods, but in an office working with computers and papers, it should be really easy to make it a safe environment for food allergies.
The Americans with Disablities Act (ADA) has put in steps to ensure that people like my friend can find and keep jobs despite any extra steps the company may have to take. It ensures her right to work at any job that can reasonably accomodate her. (AKA she won’t be able to get a job at Cinnabon, but in an office pushing papers is totally manageable.)
All the company has to do is make a policy of no food near her workspace, and enforce it.
Unfortunately, her company is not very good at enforcing. They have made it known (not very well) that there is to be no scented anything on her floor (people kept bringing in cinnamon scented candles and airfresheners), and that there is to be no cinnamon things on the floor when she’s present.
Her co-workers are seeing it as an infringment of their rights, and rebel against her. Since she is not management, they also see it as her being attention seeking and usurping authority.
She just doesn’t want to go the the ER, or get sick.
If she goes to the boss and complains, its tattle taling. If she speaks out on her own to her co-workers, its usurping and who is she to tell them what to do? The policy itself gives her special treatment and they resent her.
Today she called upset because she’s detoxing from yesterday’s office debacle. One of her co-workers had brought in a cinnamon cheesecake to share with the office, and everyone was eating it around her.
She could smell the cinnamon in the air, and started to feel the reaction starting. She took benadryl, and asked them if they could finish the cheesecake outside or remove it from the premises. They refused.
Tired of battling with them and scared of a possible ER visit, she went down to the Employee Relations office and reported the incident as a violation of the ADA. The Employee Relations personnel then went and told her co-workers they couldn’t eat the cheesecake in the office.
Her co-workers put the cheesecake away.
Simple easy success right?
No. The minute the Employee Relations personnel left, they took the cheesecake back out.
If this was merely someone complaining that they didn’t like something, or was trying to ruin people’s fun, it’d be more understandable.
But these people are playing with someone’s life. It’s not fair, its not safe, and it’s not sane.
It’s getting to the point, that unless it becomes a fireable offense and a well publicised as a fireable offense, people will continue to have no reguard for other peoples lives.