An individual with schizophrenia should not have to request “reasonable accommodation” from their employer three times, especially when the employer is a state funded mental health organization. The State of New York has responded favorably to the complaint I filed against my current employer– the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Inc. (JBFCS)
Problems began when my boss, Joan Adams, LCSW, fired her administrative assistant in late 2004. Joan wanted me to be not only the office manager for the Youth Counseling League (YCL), a program of JBFCS, but also to serve as her secretary and take on the duties formerly the responsibility of her secretary, Maryjo Tipaldo.
“I have no choice, we are facing budget cuts. I must let her go and it is now your responsibility to serve as the liaison to the YCL Divisional Board. And look at the bright side, I’m giving you a $3,000 pay increase.”
Joan adored my writing skills. She would do anything not to have to re-write the minutes that Maryjo took at monthly board meetings. She found salvation in me.
My annual salary skyrocketed to $45,000, but there was a problem. I started feeling funny in my head again. The symptoms associated with my mental disorder– schizophrenia– started to return. Chief Financial Officer Alan Schoor started to complain about my office manager abilities because revenues started to decrease at YCL soon after I started doing Mary Jo’s job. I didn’t have time to follow up on denied insurance claims.
“Look, we gave you a raise, can’t you work late?” Was their suggestion.
“Joan, I have something to tell you. I was hospitalized for schizophrenia in 2002 and the new job duties are going to send me back to the mental ward. I can no longer do both jobs…”
That’s when the trouble began.
Joan ignored me, so I called a meeting with her direct supervisor, Susan Bear and I told Susan that I was a certified nut case.
Susan Bear, the psychotherapist ignored me, so I requested a private meeting with Kathleen McGlade, Corporate Compliance officer of the Jewish Board. She too is a certified social worker.
Kathleen obviously thought I was fibbing too. What does one with Schizophrenia say to someone else to request ‘reasonable accommodations’ which are afforded to me under state and federal laws?
All I asked was that I no longer have to do MaryJo’s old job. I even told Joan she could fire me and replace me and find someone who could do both jobs.
In their response to the state of New York, the Jewish Board claimed that I was just bluffing and was being lazy and that I acted inappropriately by calling members of the YCL Divisional Board a bunch of “Bitches” and “Money Grubbing Whores” and that I said, “You should just fire me…”
It’s amazing how words can be misquoted when not written down, as in board meeting minutes.
Months slowly passed. I was treated like a step-child at work after filing my formal complaint. The state of New York took no immediate action on the matter but they did not close out the case.
Joan was promoted. They got someone new in her job– Janet Johnson. Janet’s first order of business was to notify me that I would have to start taking minutes at staff meetings and minutes from monthly Continued Program Improvement meetings.
“What’s with all the minute taking? What about my office manager job?” I asked my supervisor. “Look, they took back my $3,000 pay increase after I reported my disability and I was relieved from taking minutes at board meetings. Why now are you making me write something else? I can’t do everything for you!”
They ignored me again.
So after filing a second complaint with the State of New York, I got a call.
It appears a hearing is in order…
I’ll keep you posted….