Update: We still think this is a fascinating discussion on how NOT to work out for job accommodations for severe allergies — you may also want to check out our many recent guidance on negotiating a salary Camiseta Manchester United and other benefits.
How — and when — ought to you tell employers about your requirements for an allergy-friendly office? In general how ought to you work out for job accommodations for severe allergies? reader J wonders:
After reading your newest short article on dealing with frequent doctors’ appointments, I found the courage to write you. I do suffer from severe allergies (foods and aerosols). I have graduated from university (physics), some work experience (energy business) and added up some economics studies, because I was uncertain about being able to deal with a “normal” office job. By now, I believe much more in myself and am searching for a job (consulting/energy), but I will have to tell my future employer about my limits: 1) The rooms in which I work should be totally free of plants (important!). 2) I might have problems working “on schedule” in August and September. (In our climate here I have been struggling with asthma attacks, circulation problems, and developing new allergies for the last 5 years.) 3) The office ought to be mostly fragrance-free. These are the “basic conditions” about which I plan to inform any prospective employer in the second interview. how do I best do it without kicking myself out of the game immediately?
Hmmmn. First, J, I’m sorry to hear that you have such severe allergies! I’m not sure that arriving with a list of Camiseta Tottenham Hotspur demands is the best way to go about this, but I’m curious to hear what readers say. The whole letter reminds me a bit of the recent news story about the Camiseta Bayern Munich female academic who had an offer rejected because she was too “demanding” in her requests while negotiating. That’s one way to do it — give your employer a list of things you’d like given after you have the offer in hand and are negotiating. but a few notes about your situation, which may look a bit like a lesson in how NOT to work out for job accommodations:
Know your rights. You may want to speak with with an employment lawyer before even starting the process so you know what your rights are going into the situation. This area of law is still in flux and may vary by state — a federal court in Iowa just held that severe allergies may be covered under the American with Disabilities Act. This department of Labor FAQ sheet on disabled rights may also be valuable to you and inform how you proceed. If your allergy is severe enough that you think you’ll be covered under the law, you may act differently than if, after researching it, you don’t think you’ll be covered. You may also want to get familiar with the Asthma and Allergy foundation of America.
Don’t get too “grabby” early on in the interview process. You mention telling your prospective employer in your second interview about the “basic conditions” you require. I’m scared you will kick yourself out of the game right away if you do that. I would wait until you have an offer before you make any demands.
Assess what you can without asking directly. For example, asking to see the place where you would be working is a sensible request, and one that would allow you to see if there are plants there, how numerous people are in the space right away around you, and so forth.
Rephrase the conversation in your head to much more sensible (and regular) negotiation topics. For example: extra getaway time, extra sick days, or flexible working conditions would all address your second point about August and September being horrible for you. On the other hand, asking for a “pass” for 1/6th of the year is probably not going to serve you that well.
Realize that not everything has to be “disclosed” or negotiated. You note that you might have problems working on schedule — I’m curious how numerous people would agree that you ought to disclose that. When we’ve talked about this in situations in the past — for example, women interviewing while pregnant, or expecting/trying to get pregnant soon — they might feel obligated to disclose that they may be too sick or exhausted from the pregnancy to work normal hours. The common wisdom that I’ve seen — and I’ll pass to you — is to see how it goes, and deal with the problem when it actually happens. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t. For my $.02, I’d work out for flexible working conditions and/or much more sick days or getaway days, but I’d keep it close to my chest as to WHY I’m negotiating.
Finally: focus on what your employers can actually grant you. Your third point — a fragrance-free office — may be very hard for an employer to grant. Asking them to circulate a department-wide memo (or a memo targeted to the group of people working in your closest physical vicinity) sounds like a better negotiating request in my mind. In the comments on our postnull