If you're dealing with chronic pain, you're not alone. In fact, chronic pain affects anywhere from 11% to 40% of people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, for example, an estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had coped with chronic pain, and 8% of U.S. adults were managing high-impact chronic pain.
It's not easy, of course, to work with chronic pain. That's why many people choose to keep their pain quiet at work — they fear discrimination. Unfortunately, there are some companies that won't care about your chronic pain but, hopefully, there are ways you can detect whether or not they will at the start.
Here are seven red flags that the company for which you're interviewing won't respect you as someone who deals with chronic pain.
You'll know if there's a hushed culture surrounding chronic pain if you happen to know anyone who works for the company with chronic pain. Reach out to people who work for the company regarding informational interviews if you don't know anyone there already. These conversations should give you more of an idea of how the company handles people with chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be debilitating; just because it's often invisible, doesn't mean that it's not valid. A company that respects this will offer health benefits and coverage that can help support employees with chronic pain in finding treatment.
If the interviewer mentions any expectations of you to "power through," or mentions that they themselves are "powering through" the day, it could be a red flag that they'll expect you to "power through" your chronic pain, as well.
If employees aren't entitled paid time off for sick days, this could be a red flag. If they're expected to come to work while sick or use their vacation time to take care of themselves, it may be because the company doesn't respect those with illnesses, including chronic pain.
If those who work at the company seem to get to the office super early and regularly leave really late, often working odd hours and weekends, it could be because the company doesn't promote any work-life balance. And those dealing with chronic pain need work-life balance to take care of themselves.
If you suspect that the interviewer is suffering from chronic pain, but they brush it under the rug, this could be because they don't feel comfortable talking openly about it. And that could be a red flag that you won't be able to talk openly about your own chronic pain.
Check out the company reviews on Fairygodboss and other job boards. If any of the former or current employees mention that the company doesn't respect those with chronic pain, take it as a red flag.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.
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