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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I've joined this site to try and help a woman I work with. She has been diagnosed with fairly advanced stages of Lupus and already has internal damage to her organs. Some of the problems she is facing is that she firstly is ashamed of having this disease and secondly is having problems staying in full time employment due to the fatigue and pain she's in.

I want to help but sometimes it's so difficult to know what to say.
She's in full time work and work are giving her a really hard time about time off for appointments, saying her work isn't up to scratch (when the rest of us beleive it is), not getting enough support from the HR Department and generally finding it really difficult to stay in work. The company are not helping either. She has been to occupational health who have not replied in writing to anything and I'm unsure if Occ health are supposed to be independant or what???? Anyone know?

she currently owns her own house which I beleive is a bit of a problem? Obviously she can't give up work just yet because of the money to pay the mortgage but I think she will have to soon? Anyone any advise on this bit also please?

Once I start getting some good feedback from the site I'll show her and try to encorouge her to seek help on here herself?

Basically any advise welcome but if anyone has any on employment laws and responsibilities that would be fantastic.

Look forward to hearing from you
Nett ;)

7,800 Posts
Hello Nett and welcome :)

It is rare indeed for a work colleague to be so concerned for someone else and very nice to see :) Your interest has brought tears to my eyes (sorry having an emotional moment here :lol:) as so many here have experienced the very opposite from their work colleagues.

I can't help much on your specific questions but if you could just tell us where you're living (country) it would help people answer better.

I can't see why owning your own house is a problem unless it is a question of mortgage payments. It is, in fact, good to have obtained a mortgage before a lupus diagnosis as insurance can be a problem after.

Financial and work problems are a very big consideration that many of us have and that are a terrible extra stress to be dealing with at an already difficult time.

I'm sure that a lot can be done as to work protection. Most countries are pretty severe on protecting somebody and enabling work as much as possible. Maybe reducing hours might be an option that would mean she could keep working without further damaging her health and manage to keep up mortgage payments.

I would also encourage your friend to join this site but would encourage her also to make sure that she joins with a username that you or anybody else doesn't necessarily know. The freedom to speak here without people (friends, family, colleagues...) knowing exactly who you are is essential as forums do remain quite "public" places.

Sorry I can't help more,
hugs for your friend :hug:


553 Posts
Hello Nett and Welcome to the site

I don't think I can really expand much on what Katherine has said.

I would like to say though, that your concern for your work friend, willingness to find out information and coming to this site is brilliant. I very much doubt any of my friends or colleagues have even thought about it!

It can be hard coming to terms with a lupus diagnosis (after the inital relief that you have found out why you are feeling so bad) and having the support of family and friends is really crucial or for me it has been. A lot of people have never heard of lupus and don't really understand much about it which sometimes makes it harder for others to understand.

I have been lucky in that my employers had also been, for the most part, supportive, but I work for a small firm and we are like a family more so than anything else.

Please encourage her to come and register on this site? I was diagnosed 2007 and this has been my lifeline (and still is). The people on this site have been there and have a wealth of advice and support that you cannot put a price on. You could say I am one of the lucky one's as of yet I do not have any organ involvement, but I still get the fatigue, joint / muscle pains and stuff.

I hope that all works out for your friend and that she gets the help and support from those around her.

Claire xxx

6,152 Posts
Hi there

Welcome to the Forum. Just a thought - does she have mortgage protection? Did she take out her mortgage before her diagnosis as if that were the case in all likelihood she would have mortgage protection against illness, etc.

Also is your company unionised? If so and she believes (as well as her colleagues) that she is being treated unfairly by the company then it would be good advice to get in touch with her union.

Also could she consider the possibility of reducing hours or days? Sometimes this can make a huge difference to our capacity to continue working. It would also take the pressure off her to attend hospital appointments, etc.

Hope this helps
Take care for now

289 Posts
Hi Nett

Your concern for your friend is truly brilliant!

The concern here is that your employer may be setting up a record that will allow it to sack your friend simply on performance criterion. It is hard to advise as to the best steps to take without more information. Has HR been advised and have on file that your friend has lupus? Has her doctor written a letter advising as to the implications and considerations required by her disease? Would it be better for your friend to take sick leave to improve her health, than to struggle on and fail to satisfy?

She has to consider what case your employer might be able to bring at a tribunal for unfair dismissal and how through her own actions she could build her own case. If your are in the UK go to:

for more information in this regard. The better the position she puts herself in IN WRITING ON HER FILE, the less likely it is that she will find herself having to attend an unfair dismissal hearing - either because she will become untouchable or because your employer will be forced to give her a large settlement to avoid being taken to a tribunal.

In this I am speaking both as a retired lawyer and employer!

Thanks again for looking after a fellow lupus sufferer.


614 Posts
Your Post does not say what country you are in. I can only speak a little about US law.
I'm not a lawyer so this should not be taken as legal advise.
I am a Supervisor and the information is from my training.
First thing I would suggest is look into the FMLA ( Family Medical Leave Act)
She can not be denied this by an employer as long as she qualifys.

This act can stop an employer from being able to take any type of disciplinary action against a person due to repeat absence.
Many people think this is just for people who need a week or more off due to illness. This is not true it can be used as needed by someone who has a prolonged illness.
It will require a statement from a doctor but that is normally not a problem.

Getting the FMLA is a formal process. First she needs to inform her supervisor that she has medical problems and wants to apply for FMLA.
Once she formally puts her supervisor on notice of a problem they should offer this but may not do it.

She needs to find out what her employer thinks is not up to standard about her work.
If they are confronting her with poor work they should be able to list the problems she has.

If they do list repeat abscence this should be done as soon as she gets on FMLA.

This can also be used if she needs to leave early, come in late or what ever.
But she will be required to state when she calls in or gets ready to leave that she is taking FMLA time.

Do not expect alot of help from an HR Department. You need to remember who they work for.
They work for the company not the employee.

Next I would suggest she ask HR to allow her to review her personel file.
She needs to see if anything has been documented in it on problems.
She may want to make copies of what is on file. It may help if something happens to be able to show what was in it before any action was taken.

If she is having trouble doing her job she may want to talk to them about making a resonable accomidation.
Note I said resonable. It has to be something that will allow her to do her normal job and has to be fairly easy for the employer to do.
Note they do have the right to turn this down and to offer another option if they can think of one.
If they do this she needs to do as they suggest not turn it down.

For instance if she has problems due to the temps being to cold for her and she asks for the temp to be set at 80 they may make they offer for her to wear a coat or sweater and leve the temp where it is.
If she works in a meat locker and wants the temp at 80 this is not resonable.

If she works behind a counter and spends alot of time on her feet a stool may be a resonable accomidation to ask for.
If she works as a mail runner a stool is not resonable but a handicapped scooter maybe.

She needs to look very close at FMLA and also at rights for the handicapped. And use them wisely.

If comments are made about her problems she should document the comments. It could help to show harasment.
These comments do not have to be by just a supervisor. If anyone makes them it needs to be documented. If she can show that the supervisor did not make the comments but it is resonable to beleive they were aware of it and allowed it to happen she has been given a very powerful case for harasment.

If you have questions fill free to PM me.
If she wants to come on site she is welcome to as well.

9 Posts
hello are a really amazing person and it is great that you are so concerned for you friend and that you are trying to help so is so refreshing to see this, because as other have said we are often misunderstood by others and the world would be such a lovely place if it were filled with more people like you!!!

I know nothing about u.s employment issues as i live in the u.k...but it looks like you have some great advise here and i have prayed for you and your friend....much love and thanks again for being such a caring and loving person!!!

12 Posts
Hello Nett

Has the others have said it is very nice that you are so concerned about your friend, when i was first diagnosed no one where i worked had ever heard of sle so i didnt get any support at all in fact they were quite the opposite and thought i was thinking of something different all the time as an excuse to get out of work!!
I only joined this site 2 days ago and already have learnt so much!and may i add have been made very very welcome!so i would definately tell your friend to join she can learn so much.

Teresajane x

The Other Illinois Tammy
1,193 Posts
Hi and I am so glad that you are looking out for your friend and in time she will see that it is nothing to be ashmed of Lupus. If she is having to sit to long or stand to much or walk to long this will all make her more tired and cause even more pain. If she has been sitting for a while asking her to take a break with you (bathroom, drink, or just to short little walk) will help. The same with the walking too long or standing, find a reason to stop doing it even for a 5 minute break.

Her doctor has to get on board with some restrictions to the company for her. They can not let her go because of the illness that is illegal. If she is have a really tough time maybe lesser hours, and filing for disablility is not a bad thing. HR has to make medical changes for her with a doctor behind her just remember that. I know what she is going through, I often have to remind my boss I am not her go to person any more.

I do hope this helps some and maybe sometime when she is at your house you can log on and she can look at what we all share and she will see she is not alone and there is no need to be ashamed especially here.

1,835 Posts
All I can do is ssay that you are an amazing person to care so much fo a co-worker....all of the advice given have addressed the work issues.

God bless you for your caring and warm heart.

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