Job searching and working with RA come with challenges. But how do you communicate that to a potential employer? With the right communication, it’s possible to get the job and excel in it.
Common workplace tasks, like sitting at a desk everyday, can be difficult for people with RA. Still, there are many #RAWarriors who have fulfilling and successful careers in spite of these difficulties. Learn the skills and tools to effectively communicate to a hiring person how to excel at a job and have rheumatoid arthritis.
Applications and HIPAA
Don’t be afraid of job applications and job searching. Individuals are protected under HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) from their potential employers—or anyone else for that matter—from having their medical information shared without consent. Basically, a medical professional cannot share their health records to anyone with the permission of the patient.
If an application has a question about health issues that might affect work performance, technically it can go unanswered. There are laws in place that protect employers from discriminating against individuals that have pre-existing conditions.
EEOC and ADA
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) helps individuals that have been unlawfully discriminated against in the workplace. The ADA stands for the American Disability Act of 1996. This piece of legislation encompasses many areas for people who have disabilities. Both laws have components which are designed to make the workplace more equitable for people who have disabilities.
#RAWarriors with and without Disability
#RAWarriors who find they cannot work may apply for disability if their RA treatment team deems that their condition is severe enough. Individuals from the ages of 18-64 can apply. However, that means that they must not work
Before #RAWarriors begin job searching, they should explore potential programs and opportunities for support. For example, the Ticket to Work Program sets an individual on a program with an advocate to find a job. The advocate can also accompany a person to their place of work and support them during the re-entry phase.
Effective Communication for #RAWarriors in the Workplace
Effective communication is key for #RAWarriors during the hiring process. They need to be able to explain the complexities of RA and how to navigate it. Don’t be shy in explaining the challenges of typing regarding wrists or any other situation for that matter. There are tools and resources companies can access to make sure your body is comfortable.
But don’t stop at the body. The mind is equally important to protect and accommodate. Developing soft-skills to, again, effectively communicate with a manager is instrumental in managing stress. Managers like to hear solutions. Express that there are alternatives to completing tasks, which can help them understand the needs of an #RAWarrrior.
Stay Positive and Know Rights
Try your best to remain positive with the situation and yourself! If you decide to divulge your RA, address concerns and obstacles in a positive way during interviews. If there’s concern of someone not following through with hiring because of rheumatoid arthritis, there are laws and organizations to act as advocates on your behalf.