Saturday, August 23, 2008

Searching and Wondering

I'm not in overdrive on this job search. I'm sure Ed is confused that I haven't kicked into the typical Suzanne hyper overdrive insanity and found a job the day after getting the ax.

It's weird. There's just this thing in the back of my head saying "pace yourself." I'm applying for jobs online, but I haven't gone for the safe harbor of walking into a retail establishment or three to find a management opening.

That voice in the back of my head? It's saying this is a sign. Of what, I don't know. Only time will tell whether this is a sign that I should be on SSDI or whether I will find a Monday to Friday desk job. I think it's the former, but I will keep looking for the latter in the interim. The SSDI application is in the works, though.

I did come across something and I'm still scratching my head several days later. Monday night, I'd applied online for a job that was posted on Career Builder by a staffing agency. It was a good job fit and once I'd cut and pasted my resume and submitted, I got the message that I needed to visit the staffing agency in person to be considered for the job.

Once there, I filled out the usual paperwork before seeing a recruiter. Application, skills survey, W2, etcetera. However, the recruiter brought me back to her desk and handed me more forms. One of these was a "Post Employment Medical Summary" and it asked "Have you EVER?" regarding 100 different medical issues. Have you ever injured your knee? Have you ever had a headache? Have you ever had surgery?

It made me quite uncomfortable. Yeah, I've injured my knee-sprained it when I was a teen. Headache? Who hasn't. Surgery? Yes to that, too. It made me more and more uncomfortable.

Here's the thing. It's illegal to ask these questions as a condition of employment. They got around it saying its a "Post Employment" survey, but I haven't been offered a job-I haven't even been interviewed yet. I'd hate that information sitting there and possibly preventing me from even getting an interview. Especially since I've probably taken less time off in my entire work career than the average employee. That 7 week disability included. I. don't. call. in. sick. I just don't.

The clincher was that the form had a statement that I was supposed to sign. "I hereby give **** Staffing the right to obtain my medical records." WHAT THE HELL? The recruiter could see that I was hesitating and asked if I had a question.

I mentioned that I didn't want to sign this statement, that honestly, asking these questions before a job offer is on the table is against labor laws and I don't feel comfortable letting them pull my records. She tried to reassure me with "Honey, I've been here five years and we never have. We have to ask you to get your records." I had to point out that by signing, I would be giving them that permission.

It ended with me not signing it and telling her that if I am offered a job, I would then sign the document. However, it doesn't sit well with me. I don't think I want to work for an employer that will use my medical history to determine whether I am worth hiring.

I think that experience is why I think the SSDI is worth pursuing. I've already had Dr. J under the impression that I was going out permanently last year. I'm wondering if this document is legal here in Florida (it wasn't elsewhere that I've done hiring) and if it is, it could hinder my ability to get a job.

After some thought, I've decided I'm going back to the staffing agency and asking for that form back. Its one thing to be 20 and have a blank form, and another to be 42 and have some chronic issues that you had no control in preventing.

If you were in the same position, what would YOU do? Do you think I'm over reacting?


***I found the documentation. Quite a bit of it, in fact. I'll be going back down to the staffing office tomorrow to demand my form back and hand them a little light reading.

3 People talked back:

Steph said...

I wouldn't have signed it. I actually believe it is illegal for an employer to request your medical records, ever. It's private and protected. Before you get the forms back, maybe you should just run it by an attorney, so you can keep them for harassing others with this form. It seems very wrong to me.

Bob said...

I agree with steph, It's against the FLSA to ask for medical records either before or after your hired and I've never had anyone have me sign any kind of release before being hired. Talk to an attorney or call the Fl. Dept of Labor (I don't know if that's what it's called here, but you know what I mean).
Good luck

Suzanne said...

I'm actually surfing right now to find supporting documents. My very first management job was incredible about HR support and training. It was drummed into our heads what we could and could not ask.

IIRC, it was covered in EEOC Title IX. I found one document on a EU employment website that strangely covers US Labor Laws. I need something from the government site.

The thing here is that I've either worked for huge companies that had a vested interest or the smaller employers were founded by people who had also worked for the big companies and knew the law.

I'm thinking that because this is a smaller, local agency, they've never been questioned on it before.