Would you call this discrimination?

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  1. kirstenblog profile image81
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    I recently lost one of my two jobs. I was working at a local primary school and at the end of April a 10 year old girl asked me about the scars on my arms. The parents complained and I was suspended and subsequently dismissed. I was given one months notice and the Head said that I had acted with integrity and no malice through out. I have since learned that the parent/s had threatened a law suit. I decided not to take it to tribunal as I sympathize with the school and in some regards thats the chance you take when working in the schools (one complaint from a parent and thats enough to get fired). My second job is now under threat. I was initially told by my line manager that I should seek therapy, to speak to my GP and get a referral. She was also 'deeply disappointed in me'. My second meeting where I was officially suspended from that role was not so bad, neutral and professional.

    The last meeting I had with them was last Friday, I have felt ill all weekend. The butterflies in my stomach have turned cannibal and keep having bloody fits of ripped and shredded wings. I guess you could say it didn't go well. I was told that my not pursuing the school in tribunal is a sign of guilt. I found the line of questioning aggressive, it seemed that if an answer I was giving was not what they wanted to hear they interrupted me. For instance when trying to explain why I wasn't taking the school to tribunal I was interrupted to be told it made me look guilty. At the end of the meeting I managed to say that I felt discriminated against owing to my past issues with depression and self harm in regards to how they were conducting their investigation and general treatment of me. I am wondering if it would be possible to actually take out a law suit against them I am that upset by it all. I just don't know if I have a case a lawyer might take up?

    1. bgamall profile image71
      bgamallposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Hi, what are the scars about?

    2. Deerwhisperer profile image81
      Deerwhispererposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I don't know if it is a question of discrimination or not because you did not say how you responded to the child's questioning. Was the questioning innocent or were there malicious overtones, and how did you respond? Hope you settled it in an ubbiased manner, and good luck.

    3. leeberttea profile image57
      leebertteaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      When someone asks about your scars you're under no obligation to explain what or how you got them.

      That said, if you feel like you've been discriminated against you should talk to counsel. let them advise you whether or not you have a case and should pursue it. Good luck!

    4. tobey100 profile image61
      tobey100posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      If the issue had anything remotely to do with your scars, unless you're a model or movie star under contract, you definitely have grounds for a suit.

    5. psycheskinner profile image84
      psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      You really haven't given us enough to go on.  The actual precipitating incident and their stated reason for firing you, for example.

  2. tantrum profile image60
    tantrumposted 13 years ago

    I don't think it would be sensible to go to court. They might ask for psychological tests, and you know lawyers and their 'charming' questions. I'm sorry what had happened to you. You should conceal your wounds or lie about them. I know this sounds harsh, but that's the way this world functions.
    Sorry again !

    1. Davinagirl3 profile image61
      Davinagirl3posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      As cold as it sounds I agree with Tantrum.  Children are unsympathetic and parents can be even less sympathetic.

  3. tantrum profile image60
    tantrumposted 13 years ago

    Are you trying to open the wounds ?
    It's obvious what the scars are about.

    1. bgamall profile image71
      bgamallposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I am wondering how long she worked there and how long they allowed these scars to be seen at work. If it was not a big deal for a long time maybe she should see a lawyer. But there are obviously deeper issues here.

      1. tantrum profile image60
        tantrumposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I think that as well. Not good to go to court when there are pyschological issues in the middle. Too dangerous.

        1. bgamall profile image71
          bgamallposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          I have always found that personal issues and law enforcement are much like oil and vinegar. smile)

      2. kirstenblog profile image81
        kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        5 to 6 years, depending on which job

    2. kirstenblog profile image81
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Here is the thing, you can't really open a wound that is healded, just one that is scabbed over with poor coping skills and a bit of time smile

      For me my self harm days are long behind me. I cannot think of a series of unfortunate events that would take me back to that place. I am a pretty tough cookie at the end of the day and am coming to terms with loosing the first job, that school was like a home to me and I am sad to loose it but see other paths opening up before me. What has got me upset is this implication that I am guilty of being a danger to kids, I am offended beyond words. It has been said that I might not be allowed to work with kids again. By the way I have already had a psych eval after being told to get a therapist. He has said he might invite me to speak with teens who are self harming to share my success, that it was amazing to him that I seem to stable and able to function to the extent of having a successful marriage of 6 years. I predict the result of the eval to be a good one (going to pick it up on wednsday)

      1. tantrum profile image60
        tantrumposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Good 4 U then !I hope everything works just fine 4 U! smile

      2. bgamall profile image71
        bgamallposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Perhaps you can counsel people who have the same problems as you have overcome. Hope you get that. As for financial issues, I hope this hasn't set you back too greatly.

      3. profile image0
        EmpressFelicityposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Maybe this is a possible new career for you?  Working with young people who are going through the stuff that you once went through yourself?

        I must say I think the school have treated you very shabbily. This might seem weird but I think it's because they feel guilty.

        1. kirstenblog profile image81
          kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          You might have something there, I can see the logic of guilt and maybe fear (or similar emotions). Fear, guilt and anger can lead one to act in a hostile way and I have found the reaction of the council hostile.

          On that enlightened note I think I shall go off to watch this weeks warehouse 13 with hubbie now that he is home from climbing.

  4. tantrum profile image60
    tantrumposted 13 years ago

    Yeah ! lol smile

  5. profile image57
    foreignpressposted 13 years ago

    You need to find solutions, bring your past to a close, and move on. First, make sure the scars on your arms are covered when on the job. These scars are like tattoos. Most employers frown on tattoos. So too, with the scars.
       Second, continue to get therapy about your past. This is up to you, of course. But you should probably heed the advice of the psych evaluation.
       Third, find another job and, with scars covered, do your best. Continually ask your supervisor how you are doing on your job and if you can improve. This regular interaction will remove any barriers between you and your supervisors.
       Just my thoughts. The past is the past. It's the future that counts.

  6. kirstenblog profile image81
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    It might be a stretch but I do remember a story on the news perhaps a year ago of a lady being fired for a history of depression that had not been disclosed when she was employed even to the depression was past and was not a problem in the job, she sued and in the end they settled. Another story was about a woman who was fired from a school for offering to pray for a sick child because the parents complained as they were atheist! I think there is something to be said for fighting discrimination of mental illness issues hmm

    1. tantrum profile image60
      tantrumposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You're right. But let others do the fighting. Don't bring problems to your life in this specific moment. Focus on yourself.

  7. profile image0
    Precious Williamsposted 13 years ago

    Are they discriminating against you- yes without a doubt.  I'm glad that your self harming days are over. 
    I'm not sure though why you would let the scars on your arms show. This is entirely up to you, but you must know that some people will react in a hostile way.  We all have choices in this life - your current choice is that you allow your scars to be seen- therefore you have to live with the consequences.  It may not be fair - but as one of the other writers has pointed out -it is the way of the world.  You could make a different choice and not to let them show and then clearly you wouldn't have to face the views of people who do not understand.  You cannot change their behaviour only your own. One more issue - do you really want to work for people that treat you like that?

  8. Rafini profile image71
    Rafiniposted 13 years ago

    I have issues with anyone saying you have to cover your scars.  First of all, its a part of who you are and how you got to be where you are.  Covering the scars invites shame and I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of - you've healed and that's the important part.  I have a birthmark covering 1/2-3/4 of my arm and was once asked what happened to my arm.  While its not a scar, some might think its unsightly.  Too bad! Its a part of who I am.

    As for the school incident - I'm sorry to hear it.  Maybe you weren't ready to stand up for yourself?  Whatever the case, the issue is your second job.  Why were they informed of the situation with the school?  I don't see how it was any of their business to begin with.  I would definitely say the way they are treating you is discrimination, but a consultation with an attorney familiar with employment discrimination law would be able to say for sure.  I say contact an attorney - where I live most first consultations are free and the attorney I contacted for my employment discrimination case told me immediately after hearing my situation that he would take my case. Payment is limited due to law - in fact he might not be paid because settlement of the case is negotiable.  I might come out of it with a recommendation or my job back. (in which cases, my attorney wouldn't be paid)

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do. smile

    1. kirstenblog profile image81
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you on this one. My scars are old and faded, I work a job where I can get very hot. Try working in a poorly ventilated room with over a 100 bodies doing physical work like putting away the tables and benches (not to mention that sometimes the heating is on since weather has been cold and its not been turned off yet), it wont take long to roll your sleeves up to cool off. To ask a person to wear long sleeves in this sort of situation can actually lead to heat stroke, not responsible.

      The bank holiday is over now and I shall be calling to inform my line manager that I will be picking up the psych eval and am happy to drop a copy off at the council offices when I do (should be ready on Wednesday).

      The therapist who did the eval actually called my husband on friday and hubbie said that the therapist felt that I had been treated unfairly. Hubby is a fighter and is in  my corner so to speak and will definitely help me to find a lawyer assuming thats what I do. I guess I just hope that the council realizes that I may have strong reasons to feel discriminated against by them and consider that as they decide what to do next, meaning I wouldn't have to take it to court.

      BTW its getting close to 10 years since I last self harmed. I feel that I have come a long way and that it is behind me. An incident like this brings back an ancient bit of history but my reaction and ability to cope are a lot better then they would have been back in the old days hmm

    2. profile image0
      Precious Williamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you.  Kirsten has nothing to feel ashamed about and if she wants to show off her scars it absolutely her choice.  My only point is that you have to live with the consequences of that choice and some people will react badly.  That's why I asked her if she really wanted to work with such people.  I too have badly scared arms (though not through self harm - however I normally keep them covered not because I'm ashamed - I just get bored of people staring or commenting.  The weather has been great today and for the first time in several years I showed my arms.  The stares were rather trying and I got asked about them several times. Will I have them uncovered tomorrow - I don't know - but whatever I choose I have to live with other people's reactions good and bad.

  9. SomewayOuttaHere profile image61
    SomewayOuttaHereposted 13 years ago

    i'd take a look at your 'human rights laws' in the country where you live - i'm sure they are on line  - from what you write it doesn't appear that the employers (both) handled the situation very well.

    1. Friendlyword profile image60
      Friendlywordposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I don't know how old you are.   Maybe you are not aware of the trauma you can cause a small child and even a ten year old.  I'm assuming you're talking about suicide scars. If so; were you given a chance to cover them up. If not; Run don't walk to an attorney. And don't stop with one attorney. Keep looking until you find one that will stand up for you.

  10. Aficionada profile image84
    Aficionadaposted 12 years ago

    kirstenblog -

    How dreadful that this has been happening to you!  You have my great respect and admiration for the way you have healed and developed a good life.

    *** (kirstenblog wrote) By the way I have already had a psych eval after being told to get a therapist. He has said he might invite me to speak with teens who are self harming to share my success...***

    I so totally agree with this, and I hope it is something you can do and be very well compensated for it.  Most of us who think of ourselves as "normal" (sorry, I don't know another word for what I mean) really have NO idea of what goes on in the lives of people who are in great pain.  We who are ignorant cannot offer the kind of insight and inspiration that you can.

    *** (kirstenblog wrote) I think there is something to be said for fighting discrimination of mental illness issues. ***

    Amen to that! (underscored, emphatically, repeatedly)

    Rafini's wisdom is worth noting. Even if you are not able to receive anything financially, the matter of receiving a good recommendation for future employment really is worth the hassle, and so is the possibility that a discrimination suit could encourage employers of all kinds to find better ways in the future of managing disagreements or complaints from the disgruntled in their midst.

    Best wishes in this!

  11. nikki1 profile image60
    nikki1posted 12 years ago

    Unfortunately, where your scars are concerned, you need to consider you represented the school as a whole and there policies. And the students and the staff as well. And with how the student reacted you must have scared her. You may want to consider apologizing for scaring the little girl. And, not following the guidelines.
    You will need to hide the scars. They are your personal business not the public's.
    Good luck with your situation.

    1. Misha profile image63
      Mishaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Not that you make any sense LOL. But then by now probably nobody expects you to make any sense lol

  12. nikki1 profile image60
    nikki1posted 12 years ago

    Kristenblog if you work in the public like a school with kids, you abide by there policies. You rep. there them. And, you unfortunately scared that girl. Did you like working there?

    1. Aficionada profile image84
      Aficionadaposted 12 years agoin reply to this


      Where on earth did you come up with this line of thought, other than simply making it up?  The 10-year-old could simply have been curious, as 10-year-olds are; then when the kid mentioned it in some way to their parents, perhaps even just in passing,  the over-protective parents blew it way out of proportion.  My version is every bit as valid as your guess is.  I don't know exactly what happened, and neither do you.

      But aside from not agreeing with your fanciful interpretation, I think it would be immensely helpful for you to learn how to spell - especially there vs. their, where vs. wear, and (on your profile page) suit vs. suite.  Your writing would be much more professional and much easier to understand, if you would write what you actually mean.

      1. psycheskinner profile image84
        psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        If you don;t know exactly what happened, neither do we.  If you want support, that's fine.  But we can't just say you are right based on not really knowing what happened.

  13. Pearldiver profile image70
    Pearldiverposted 12 years ago

    Kirsty.... Kick their Butts.  They have no legal right to put you through this and are bluffing you becoz you are being agreeable about it. Don't be.... your rights have been abused and you should attack them with an employment advocate for unjustifiable dismissal and costs for hurt and humiliation.

    If I was there I would represent you. So go get a legal begal and stop being mucked around. sad

    @ Nikki.... That is BS sad

  14. Lisa HW profile image60
    Lisa HWposted 12 years ago

    kirstenblog, the best way to know if this is something a lawyer would take on as a case would be to find a few lawyers who offer an initial consultation at no charge, and who would take their fees if/when their is a settlement.  Generally, if it's something they don't think they can win they'll tell you why they think they couldn't win it and wouldn't take the case.

    You could also look on the site for your state's bar association or on the court sites. Sometimes there are free legal-information lines, or else referral to lawyers who specialize in certain types of cases.

    From what I understand, it seems they told you you'd be losing your job, and gave you the chance to go through some process of maybe saving your job?  And you chose, instead, not to fight it?  Then, that should have been "it" for them - end of story.  If you exercised your option not to fight it, you shouldn't even have to think about what any of them think at this point.  Lawyers usually ask for some kind of records that show "distress" or "stress", so if this thing has made you feel sick, as you said, you may want to set up an appointment with someone like a counselor, to get it "on record" that it upset you this badly.

    If you decide you don't want to pursue suing anyone, then try to forget the whole thing happened (they will), and find work where you aren't being made to feel as if someone is questioning your emotional health.  The woman who said that to you probably went home and cooked dinner, went shopping, or did whatever else she does in her day-to-day life - and in the meantime, you've probably been all upset over it.  Things have a way of blowing over sooner than you'd think.

  15. Susana S profile image92
    Susana Sposted 12 years ago

    I definitely think this is a case of discrimination. If you had a visible scar from an operation and a child asked about it and you told them the truth e.g. I had cancer and I had to have it removed, then none of the problems you have experienced would have ensued.

    So it seems it's ok to have a scar from a physical illness but not a mental illness. This is discriminationn 100%.

    Whether you want to fight it or not is another matter. It could be especially costly if you do not have the backing of a union. And I believe to take your ex employer to a tribunal you need to have gone through the whole of their grievance procedure first. (I don't know if you did that or not?)

  16. Lady_E profile image65
    Lady_Eposted 12 years ago

    I'm not sure if you have access to FREE Legal Advice in US. If you do, speak to as many Legal Advisors as possible (on the phone) and see how you feel about it. i.e if you want to take the case forward.

    You have been wronged, but discrimination isn't the word/issue.

    Best Wishes.


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