How much should your employer accommodate your health issues?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Jerseygirlteach, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I had to think this one over today. :)

    How much should your employer accommodate you if you have a health issue? I'll give a few what if examples..

    What if you have a serious knee or hip issue and can't walk stairs without significant pain, but are a teacher that needs to walk your class to and from places. Should your employer provide someone to walk with your class in your place?

    What if you have an ailment that requires you to miss well beyond your allotted number of absences. Should your employer allow you to miss the extra number of days?

    What if you are a teacher and have diabetes (or some other health issue) and need to eat your meals on a very strict schedule. Should your employer change the lunch period for your class to accommodate your dietary needs?

    What if you are a parent and have a child with a long-term illness and must leave and/or arrive every - or nearly every - day before or after your contracted time to care for him or her? Should your employer permit this?

    What do you think?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It would be nice if all your suggestions could happen. Schools revolve around student needs, however, and a specific school time schedule...its not like you can come in early to work so you can leave early.

    Im not quite sure where the designated 'walker' for a teacher with knee or hip ssues would come from? Pull a para or office staff from their job to transition kids from one place to another? Seems disruptive.

    One can use their bank of sick days for those beyond the yearly allotment.


    I work with a teacher who has diabetes. He has snacks in his backpack at all times and can get coverage in an emergency.


    Extended illness of family member falls under FMLA.


    Schools simply don't have the staffing or budgets to accommodate most of the situations you listed.:(
     
  4. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Very well said :agreed:
     
  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I had gestational diabetes, and I just ate my snacks during class. That's a very easy accommodation, and doable.

    Leaving early could possibly be arranged by having prep period at the end of the day with the expectation to prep from home.

    FMLA should cover extended days for documented medical reasons

    I'm not sure about the walker.
     
  6. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I had trouble with stairs so when I needed to take my kids to specials, the teacher came to me or I waited in the staircase while the kids walked up.

    As for sick days, the principal looked the other way. I don't think either of these things could be done in a public school, which is why I didn't work at one. I do not think I was entitled to either of these accommodations and had it not been possible I would have understood and looked for a different profession.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I found this site, which is fairly comprehensive in its explanation of ADA accommodations for teachers.
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Interesting that one of the solutions for mobility was that the teacher gets to keep a job, not her current job because she was reassigned to a different building where she could work on the first floor.

    That is something that must be kept in mind when asking for accommodations. They may not come in the way someone wants them. It my fulfill the law completely which is all the school district has to do.
     
  9. TnKinder

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    Accommodating Teachers

    There is a teacher in my building who had hip surgery. Her class is on the first floor even though the rest of her team is upstairs. When the class needs to go to support or lunch, one of her team members put her class in their line and walk them. Two support classes are across the hall so she monitors from a chair. Kids have lunch in the class each day.
    A another school a teacher could only work within a certin radius of her home. Because of this she was reassigned schools.
    Both of these teachers were protected under the American Disabilty Act. The other examples, I guess would depend on the culture of the school. At my school a teacher with diabetes wouldn't have a problem eating when they need to even if it wasn't lunch time. I couldn't see admin allowing a teacher to come in early to leave earlier in the afternoon. But that is what FMLA is for.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We have an older para at my school who has literally missed over 50 days due to illness. Apparently this has happened for the past couple of years. While I'm sympathetic, it's very irritating because my para always gets pulled to cover her duties. She's worked at the school for a long time and I think they don't want to get rid of a "loyal" employee, but when it gets to the point where you can't do your job, I'm just not sure...
     
  11. bros

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    With walking classes places - the teacher who teaches the subject they need to be walked to (i'm thinking from an elementary perspective with specials) could walk to the room and escort the kids to class.

    With missing beyond allotted number, it should be allowed, but hopefully the P would be understanding.

    With diabetes, if the time the teacher needs to eat lines up with a lunch period, why not? Otherwise, they could just keep snacks with them.

    With a child with a long term/chronic illness, that is covered under FMLA - especially if the parent needs to stay home for an extended period of time.
     
  12. Loveslabs

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    We had a teacher that couldn't walk because she was so over weight. She would roll around in her chair. Other teachers had to take her kids up and down the stairs. At recess she would roll out on the playground to monitor the students from her chair. Personally I have a problem with that because of safety issues. If it was my child I would not like it because if there was an injury or fight I would want a teacher there that could quickly get to the issue and help. Plus, a huge part of our playground was a field in which she couldn't roll her chair over.

    We also had a teacher that claimed she had some problem where she couldn't be exposed to cold air because it caused her some kind of discomfort. She wanted others to cover her half hour recess duty and daily bus duty any time the temp. dropped below 50. It is below 50 at least 6 months out of the year here!

    I am not sure what the answer is in a school system, but I don't think it is fair for others to have to pull your weight without some type of compensation.
     
  13. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    While certain things must be accommodated under ADA (and they should be), I think other accommodations that don't fall under ADA are sometimes more likely to be granted if the person seeking them is flexible and understands others aren't required to help them. For example, instead of demanding a lunch time change due to needing to eat, I knew when my lunch was and created my eating schedule around it. I had to get up earlier for breakfast, but that wasn't a big deal. If someone else is giving up time to walk your class somewhere, perhaps you could run a set of copies or do some other small task for that person. However, if your attitude is that things are owed to you, I think your coworkers will be very disgruntled.
     
  14. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I have a view from the perspective of the other teachers. My second job is in a school where the majority of the teachers are getting up there in years or in ill health. It is putting a burden on the rest of us to pick up the slack - doing the heavy work and cleaning, dealing with the out of control kids, picking up the heavy objects, etc., etc. It has been a big topic of conversation among the healthy teachers because we feel we are having to work a lot harder because others can't. Some of the teachers resent the others because they are tired of it and feel they aren't getting paid more to do more work.

    Yes, we need to be empathetic and caring but if you can't do the physical part of the job you were hired for and there is no other job to put you in, what should/can a director do? Several of these teachers should have retired years ago, but can't afford it and every year can actually do less and less. It is frustrating.
     
  15. bros

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    When I was in high school, I had a classmate where if they were exposed to cold air, their hands would start to crack and bleed - usually after a few days into winter, not instant crack & bleed.

    So he'd wear gloves anytime it was cold out - even in the classroom.
     
  16. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Thanks for the responses. I purposely didn't give my own opinion because I was interested in the responses of others. All of those examples are real issues of my collegues. My principal has been cracking down and you wouldn't believe how indignant people can be, how appalled that anyone would ask them to do something that they feel compromises their health.

    Personally, I feel for people that have health issues that conflict with their job responsiblities. I hope the powers that be can be compassionate if that ever becomes an issue for me. But I'm frustrated with the impact it has on others - especially when it's an ongoing issue rather than a short-term issue like a recoverable injury or short-term illness.
     
  17. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    My son is allergic to cold, by the way. It's a real thing as you obviously know. His exposed skin - cheeks and hands - break out in hives when he's out in particularly cold weather. His whole body breaks out in hives when he goes in a cold pool or ocean. When I tell people he's allergic to cold, they think I'm a crazy person, but it's definitely a real thing.
     
  18. bros

    bros Phenom

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    There are all sorts of allergies.

    I'm allergic to the smell of fresh cut grass. Makes me sneeze like crazy unless i'm on my meds.
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Would you also have a problem with someone who needed to use a wheelchair? Wouldn't that be the same thing?
     
  20. TeacherNY

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    I think there are many exceptions that can be made for teachers with certain conditions, especially if they are for the short term.
    I think there's a difference between someone who has a medical need to be a wheelchair and someone who feels they need to just roll around in a regular chair because they do not feel like walking. I'm assuming if they are unable to walk they need a medical diagnosis and tell the school they need a wheelchair. I would not have a problem if my child's student was in a wheelchair. They would probably assign the teacher a different duty other than the playground.
     
  21. Loveslabs

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    It would depend....

    My child's safety and well being are my top priority. If my child was laying in a field needing help I would be most unhappy to find out someone wasn't there as quick as possible to take control of the situation.

    We had a tree fall on our playground many years ago. I had 75 6th graders outside with me. I was walking through the field as I walked a certain path during recess so I could be well aware of what was going on during recess. Mind you, the field and black top area were about three quarters of an acre. Suddenly, I heard a huge crack. I looked over and my gut just told me the tree on the property next door was coming down. I started screaming and running to chase the children away from that area.

    Honestly, a thirty foot tree fell on the playground. I felt the branches of the top of the tree scrape the backs of my legs as I was running. Children could have been killed had I not been circulating around the playground. What would have happened if a teacher in a chair or wheelchair had not been out in the field?

    There were times we had kids start fights out in the field. We had one girl get knocked out from a baseball that had been hit by a bat. Thank God someone could get to these situations quickly. I think you would be most unhappy if any of these things happened to your child, but nothing could be done until a child ran inside to get another adult to come help.
     
  22. Major

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    I don't post much ...... hardly ever ..... But this would be an interesting question(s) for tax payers in general ..... For me personally my taxes are high enough........ Any thoughts?
     
  23. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    The students have to come first. Honestly, it might depend on if it was a temporary situation or long term on how it would be handled. This fall we had a teacher out for almost 2 weeks while her father was in his final days and then the funeral. She sent in lesson plans & her class was covered. There is also FMLA.
     
  24. gr3teacher

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    I personally would have a problem with a person in a wheelchair doing recess duty, yes.
     
  25. TeacherNY

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    There was another thread a while back where someone asked if there were any teachers in wheelchairs. I think a few people said that a person can effectively teach with in a wheelchair and could definitely have a chance at being hired. I'm assuming that if such a person was hired they would only be given duties which they could properly manage (study hall, maybe lunch duty, etc). If there were multiple teachers on a playground for recess duty and 1 out of 3 of them were in a wheelchair then it could still be done. I think it all comes down to the school and what administration is willing to do for accommodations.
     
  26. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    Huh, this is an interesting topic.

    It's gotten me thinking: could a person who relies on a service dog be hired as a teacher and allowed to bring in their dog? This is assuming that the teacher clearly requires the animal for a legitimate purpose, of course. Has anyone heard of such a case?
     
  27. gr3teacher

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    I have never heard of it, but I could imagine it for a few teaching positions. I suspect it would have to be limited to TVIs though.
     
  28. TeacherNY

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    I could just see some parent complaining that their child was allergic to dogs. I'm sure the student could be placed in another class but it seems there are complaints about everything so why not this? I
     
  29. Go Blue!

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    In grad school, I did an internship in this small town called Pinckney, Michigan and I spent some time in a combined 3rd/4th grade class with two teachers.

    The classroom was a very large, open space that looked like it had been at least two or three classrooms before it was converted to "one." There was a large office in the back of the room shared by both of the co-teachers. Well, one of the teachers brought her dog to work pretty much everyday and the dog stayed in the office (which was large enough for it to run around in - the office was not a cramped space) during instructional time. But, they let it out for lunch, recess, and during other special times and they would just let it roam the classroom or curl up next to the kids during story time. AND it was one of those large, Lassie-looking dogs.

    I really, really, really do not like dogs - at all - and I have never seen any mess like that. The whole situation irritated me to no end but all of the kids in the class seemed ok with having the dog around (or at least used to it) and they really enjoyed being able to interact with the dog when it came out of the office. Also, other teachers would often come in during their plan to pet, play with, or take the dog outside for walks.

    Once again, I think the small, tight-knit community of the town and the school made this type of thing ok. I don't it would fly in Baltimore City PS (where I work).
     
  30. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    That situation is just ridiculous. I can't believe any school, tight-knit or not, would stand for that.
     
  31. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    That's a good point; I imagine it would have to be in the perfect situation for it to work, realistically. I just wonder if it's really been done before, especially in a public school setting.

    Oh, I could definitely see that as well! And I'd completely understand the complaint, and I imagine a student could be moved to a different class, like you pointed out. I wonder if a potential allergy could make the school limit an individual's potential opportunities, though. I've known plenty of people in college who have had dog allergies but shared classes with individuals with service dogs, after all.

    I can't believe that was allowed! We're talking about a PET here. ...I just can't wrap my head around why that would be okay. I've got a dog of my own, and though she is a working dog and does do therapy from time to time at the local hospital and nursing home, she's a PET. She'll tag along with me to the farmer's market or the local home improvement store (and any other local place that specifically allows pets), and I can even bring her to work with me now because the family I nanny for encourages her presence now and again... but I could never imagine trying to bring her to a school.
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My chemistry teacher in 9th grade used to bring his two labs (no pun intended) to school. Most of the time they'd chill out in his office, which was connected to the classroom lab through a doorless doorway. Sometimes the dogs would meander through the classroom during class. I loved those dogs. I wish I could bring my dogs to class. I think that many of my students would be made calmer and more focused with a dog around.
     
  33. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Well, it's like this:

    Either the tax payers are going to pay for accommodations or they are going to pay for the person to sit at home and collect disability because they can't work.
     
  34. TeacherNY

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    A teacher at my school has a therapy dog that he brings in sometimes for the (special education) students to interact with. No complaints so far. If a teacher has a legitimate health issue and needs a service dog then would it be discrimination not to allow them to bring in the dog or hire them on that basis?
     
  35. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Every one of these situations are covered under existing laws. Schools are no exceptions. It's very simple in one respect. Employers must make accommodations required in order for you to remain employed.


    First of all, where there are stairs, there must be a working elevator. Period. No exceptions even if no students or teachers on the upper floors are not capable of climbing stairs.

    They could do any the following:
    • Allow students to walk to the class unsupervised.
    • Assign another staff member to walk the students.
    • Change the classrooms so the students walk to one that's not upstairs.
    • Change the teaching assignment to one where the teacher does not walk students to another room.

    This would be addressed by the union contract or any employment laws that cover extended illnesses. In my district, if you run out of sick days you get docked unless you are part of an extended leave bank. But if you have a lot of days saved up, and get sick, you can take them for legitimate illnesses.

    Again, they have to make some sort of accommodation, such as:

    • Letting the teacher eat in front of students while teaching.
    • Changing the lunch time.
    • Relieving the teacher so they can go eat.

    FMLA
     
  36. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Sarge, your explanation is good. I do want to point out that the law says reasonable accommodations. What you pointed out might very well be reasonable. Sometimes the accommodations are not. So, you can't expect an employer to have to spend an inordinate amount of money or hire someone else to do major portions of your job or make someone else to do major portions of your job in addition to theirs so the disabled person can keep the job.

    Also, FMLA only requires a job is provided when you get back. People must remember this. A friend had to FMLA and when she returned the position available was now a 1hr + commute compared to her previous 15 minute commute. The district provided a similar job.
     
  37. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    I think accommodations should be made within reason. For instance, a teacher in a wheel chair being given the option to work in a one-story school, or on the main level so they're not constantly having to go up and down stairs.

    Or a teacher who has trouble walking being allowed to bring her class down to the lunchroom 2 - 3 minutes ahead of the other teachers because it will take her longer.

    However, if the accommodations are not enough to off-set the person's disability, I don't think it's fair to the grade level team or students to make exceptions for them.

    Case in point, we had a terrible teacher a couple years ago who had a disability, and she got away with murder because the Admin were so paranoid she would sue them for discrimination.

    I'm hardly a perfect teacher, but honestly, the things this woman did and demanded had nothing to do with her disability. My grandmother was physically disabled, so I feel I'm compassionate toward people with handicaps, BUT if your disability is such that you have to input fake test scores; never grade papers; can't pull daily, small reading groups (which is mandatory at our school!); have piles and piles of old papers and half eaten food still in wrappers all over your classroom; require a retired teacher to write your lesson plans and keep tabs on you; lose standardized test booklets; don't refer struggling students to our school intervention team because they're "so little and will eventually catch up"; don't do accommodations for ELL and SpEd students; allow your grade level team to pick up all your slack (because you can't be bothered to run copies when it's your week to do the weekly homework packet) then you don't need to be a teacher! :2cents:
     

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