Taking CSID to Work

Working with CSID can pose many challenges. From dealing with bathroom issues and special food needs to missing work due to illness, workers with CSID need to prepare themselves for a positive employment situation. It may seem difficult or embarrassing to discuss CSID with your supervisor or co-workers, but it is generally a good idea to do so. The type and amount of information you share is up to your discretion.

 

With your supervisor, you should discuss any accommodations that you feel are necessary to ensure you perform your job to the best of your ability while dealing with CSID. You may need to provide medication documentation from your physician. It is also important to let your supervisor know that while you don’t always have control over CSID symptoms, you are a dedicated, hard worker and do have control over your work performance. Explain to your supervisor that your symptoms may force you to leave a meeting unexpectedly or go to the restroom often, but this will not affect your job performance.

 

You may also consider telling your co-workers about your CSID condition. Just as having a good support system at home is important, having understanding co-workers can prove to be invaluable. You might find that co-workers include more safe food choices in meetings or office gatherings if you alert them to your needs. If you have to spend a significant amount of time in the restroom, your co-workers will understand and not consider you lazy or accuse you of not pulling your weight on the team. You may choose to confide in trustworthy co-workers who can help to cover your responsibilities should you need to use the restroom for an extended period of time.

 

Some adults with CSID may want to ensure their needs are being met at work by advocating for their rights as a disabled individual. Other adult patients with CSID resist the label “disabled” and prefer not to initiate this process. This is a personal decision that can only be made by the person with CSID. The following information regarding disability status is included for those patients who want additional guidance.

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal legislation that prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals. The ADA is applicable to all employers who have 15 or more employees. According to the ADA, a disability is defined as:

 

  • “(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
  • (B) a record of such an impairment; or
  • (C) being regarded as having such an impairment”

 

An amendment to the ADA went into effect in 2009 that expanded the definition of a disability, providing better protection for individuals with chronic disorders, such as CSID. Two specific changes that are most applicable to persons with CSID are:

 

  • The term “major life activities” now includes recognition of problems with “major bodily functions” such as those of the digestive system.
  • The episodic nature of some disabilities is now recognized, as long as the symptoms interfere with a major life activity when present.

 

Under the ADA, employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” for persons with a disability. Some examples of reasonable accommodations for a patient with CSID could include:

 

  • Unlimited restroom access including frequent breaks as needed
  • Moving the employee’s workstation or office closer to the bathroom
  • Offering shorter, different, or flexible work hours
  • Telecommuting when symptoms are severe
  • Allowing time off for medical appointments or treatment
  • Limiting long meetings, presentations, and travel
  • Access to a refrigerator to store special foods or medications
  • Allocating some duties to another employee if needed, such as travel

 

Your employer is entitled to ask for documentation regarding your CSID and the limitations the diagnosis places on you as an employee. Your employer is prohibited from disclosing such accommodations to your coworkers as the ADA ensures employee privacy regarding medical concerns.

 

If your CSID symptoms are so severe that it prevents you from working, Social Security Disability might be an option for you. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can apply for disability if you are over the age of 18 and live in the United States, or one of its territories and commonwealths. The SSA has certain requirements that must be met in terms of how long you have worked and how much you have paid in Social Security taxes in order to qualify for disability benefits. Your Social Security Statement will tell you if you have met the work requirement. The SSA will consider your CSID a disabling condition if it meets the following conditions:

 

  • “You cannot do work that you did before
  • We (the employer) decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s)
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death”

 

To apply for SSA disability benefits, you may apply online, in person at a local Social Security Administration office, or by phone.

 

The question arises as to whether a person with CSID should tell a prospective employer about his/her condition. You are not required by law to inform any prospective employers about your health condition. Employers are prohibited from asking questions or requiring medical examinations prior to making a job offer. Once a job offer has been extended, employers have a right to ask questions about your health history and are entitled to require medical examinations before you begin work. Employers are prohibited from withdrawing a job offer just because they learn that you have CSID. Job offers can only be withdrawn if the employer can prove that your CSID interferes with your ability to “perform the essential functions of the job (with or without reasonable accommodations).”  Any information regarding your health status that is revealed during the job application process must be kept confidential, with the following exceptions:

 

  • Individuals involved in hiring decisions
  • Supervisors and managers if reasonable accommodations are necessary
  • Insurance carriers and government agencies