Telling Your Job You Have Sickle Cell

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Okay, for starters I’ve learned the hard way that it’s always good to tell your job that you have sickle cell BEFORE you end up in the hospital for a week.

I used to work as a personal assistant, and it was a great job that used my organizational capabilities to the max! I fell sick 2 months into the job, and was in the hospital for a little over a week, and at home the rest of the 2nd week recuperating. Needless to say, when I got back, there was a ton of work to catch up on and my boss was not pleased. She wasn’t mean about it, but she stated quite truthfully that if she had known that I would disappear all of a sudden she would never have hired me, or would have hired an assistant to fill in when I was out. I learned a great lesson that day, and ever since then, I’ve been upfront and honest to my employers and potential employers about sickle cell.

Usually, I don’t say anything until the end of the 2nd interview (the one with your direct boss), when the interviewer asks me if I have any questions. Then I state, “Just so you know, I have sickle cell anemia. It’s a hereditary condition that flares up once in a while. It makes me have to use my sick days a few times a year and sometimes, when it gets real bad I have to go to the hospital.”

That’s it. Nice, simple and honest. This usually opens up the ground for them to ask more questions, like what exactly is sickle cell anemia, and when was the last time I was sick. I usually only tell my direct supervisor about the sickle cell, but post-crises, I tell anyone else that asks. I’m not asking for sympathy…I’m trying to spread the word and shake the ignorance and mystique that surrounds sickle cell.

Now I work in the medical field, so people ‘get it’ more. However, this same speech has been used to interview for an office job, a mall job and a writing gig…so it can be tailored to fit your profession as well. I’ve never NOT gotten hired because I told them I have sickle cell (knock on wood).

I understand the mentality of trying to hide that you have moments of vulnerability from your potential employers. But sometimes hiding the condition ends up doing more harm than good. Employers love it when they get the full idea of the person they are hiring (so states my HR sister Ms. Diva). And when they do find out later, they might end up resenting you for hiding it, and since they legally can’t fire you for being sick, they make your job more and more difficult so you eventually have to quit or get sacked for something totally retarded.

Remember, if you had diabetes, lupus or MS, it would not be a huge deal to tell your boss that this is my condition, and these are my limitations. So apply that same principle to your job now. Honesty is the best policy.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am glad your experiences have been positive. And though it is illegal to discriminate based on disability, there are employers that will NOT hire if given the information before they make a decision. Personally, I reveal the information on as needed basis and so far I’ve not had a problem with that either.

    • @A, that is the advice I have gotten from several others who have sickle cell and work. I work in the nursing field, so they need nurses and will always need nurses. But maybe other professions aren’t as essential and they can choose other employees if you disclose ahead of time. Thanks for sharing!

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