Should I tell my employer, legal advice

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Hummingbird
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13 Apr 2008, 7:21 pm

I know there's very similar threads here, but I'm looking for help from anyone familiar with employment law and the such (UK especially).

I work in a well known DIY store in Scotland. Over the last few months things have been getting quite stressful. My boss is constantly telling me to look busy, he is unconcerned if I'm working or not, as long as I appear to be working. Besides the basic fact that it's a ludicrous thing to expect anyone to do, it's almost impossible for someone with AS to do. I'm constantly having to control my body language, with absolutely no success. So I have to make myself busy, which means approaching customers. Anyway, it seems no matter what I do it's perceived that I'm not doing my job, when in fact I work very hard when there's work to be done, and I'm even good with the customers (as long as they don't expect small talk).

So I think I need to tell my employer that I have Asperger's before I loose my job over behaviour I can't avoid. My employer doesn't permit employees to join a union, but they have a medical helpline that offers anonymous legal advice. However when I phoned and asked what the legal implications of telling my employer would be I was told that my question was "contentious" and one of the conditions of the service is that they can't answer contentious questions. As far as I can see, unless my employee has a policy of firing anyone with a disability there is nothing contentious about my question, I have no interest in pursuing litigation. I haven't told them I have a disability and they don't treat me like I have a disability, so I see no cause for contention. All I want is a little bit of awareness.

It might be worth mentioning here that I was undiagnosed when I started working for them, so I haven't withheld a diagnosis from them. Also I have a written warning about my timekeeping, this should be invalid soon as it expires after 6 months but I wouldn't be surprised if they used it as an excuse to fire me if they want rid of me (by pulling me up for clocking in a few seconds late). Although my timekeeping is related to my AS I doubt they would see it that way.

thanks for any help,
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agmoie
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13 Apr 2008, 7:29 pm

Tell them you have it.All workers in the UK are allowed to join unions except police and Armed Forces personnel.If you tell them you can avail of the diability discrimination legistlation which protects disabled workers from unlawful discrimination.



LabPet
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13 Apr 2008, 8:43 pm

Yes, I would divulge because and only because this may be an issue of your keeping your job. I wouldn't just 'say it,' though - have it in writing and give a brief explanatory on what is AS. Just saying Asperger's Syndrome is insufficient; your boss will not know what this even means. In the US there is the ADA (Americans w/ Diabilities Act); I know UK has someting similiar (& better, ADA is lousy). Use your rights, and always be respectful of your employer. Keep it discrete though - I don't think you want your co-workers using this as arsenal against you. Yes, they should not do this, but, in reality, they potentially can. And do.


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Heron
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13 Apr 2008, 8:51 pm

Join a trade union, law does not permit your employer to prevent you. Tell the union about your problem and you want to carry on working there and to sort it out for you. If your employer has an ounce of sense he will accomodate your differences (mine did). The boring bit is you will have to keep a diary of any problems thrown in your way.

Agmoie is right, disability discrimination comes into play, there are large penalties if your boss screws up.



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Hummingbird
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14 Apr 2008, 10:40 am

Thanks for the replies, I think I'll get some information together and take it to my HR department. It will be hard to keep it from my colleagues as there's about a dozen managers in the store and I doubt it'd be a well kept secret. However I am well liked by most of the staff so I can't see anyone using it against me.

thanks again,
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ClosetAspy
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16 Apr 2008, 2:24 pm

Well I told my boss, we were having a discussion about some new kind of psychological testing called Predictive Index, so I used that to work it in and he did not believe me because 1) I function too well in that environment and 2) his wife is studying psychology and she knows about Aspergers and I don't have it. Ok, well, sorry I brought it up, my bad, won't do that again. Anyway I have a reputation for joking and off-the-wall comments so I don't think there will be any repercussions. It's just me doing one of my oddball things again.

I don't know about employment laws in the UK or elsewhere, so I can't comment on what your legal rights are. Anyway I have found that legal rights are useless unless you can get someone with the authority to back you up on your side and that is the most difficult thing. I don't have a track record of success in that area.

What I do know, and this is from experience, is that if you know or suspect that you are on the outs with your supervisor then it is critically important that you follow all the rules even the ones you don't agree with or don't make sense. If you know that there is a policy that if you are late 3 times in a month you will be fired, don't even be late once. I am serious. Supervisors tend to watch certain people like hawks and even if you think it is illegal or unfair or discriminatory, they have the authority and you don't. Period. I have had supervisors that disliked me and openly played favorites. I am still there and most of them are gone. I think the secret is I never challenged their authority even when I knew they were wrong. Don't think that because you have a "condition" that they will make allowances or exceptions. They will not. It took me a long time and many painful lessons for me to get where I am today.



LabPet
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16 Apr 2008, 7:07 pm

I am sorry - that's rough. I've done this too. I think the best way to offset (potential) discrimination is through knowledge. Compose a brief, succinct presentation/paper using current real science, with citations. Maybe try to get an advocate now; is there an appropriate agency? Maybe get a certifiable Dx too, for clarity. Trust me, most are 'autistic stupid,' meaning others know NOTHING about autism/AS. Then they'll start making guesses, which are invariably WRONG. Yes, I would watch yourself. Discrimination, although very real, is tough to prove. I would take precautions NOW - just in case.


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