The Epileptic Employee

once said “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your
life”.  Working and finding a career to
be passionate about is difficult, and requires years of searching, training and
perseverance.  It requires overcoming
obstacles, endless hard work and, of course, the perfect opportunity.  For most, the idea of finding the perfect
career or job is hard, but with proper guidance and diligence, it is feasible.
However, for people with epilepsy, finding and maintaining a career becomes
infinitely more difficult because of unfair social stigma.

with epilepsy face many obstacles that greatly limit their achievements at work.
Many employers feel that people with epilepsy are not productive workers, and
cannot be placed in situations of responsibility or stress. They feel that the
seizures are “fearful” and often coworkers of people with epilepsy worry about “unpredictable
events”’ when giving first aid to someone undergoing seizures. Those affected
by the condition often report facing an unpleasant atmosphere at work. Additionally,
while employees with epilepsy do not have poor attendance records or high
accidents in the workplace, they are often found to have lower salaries than
their respective colleagues.

is important to realize that epilepsy is a “spectrum disorder”, and so those
affected by the condition have a wide range of causes, seizures types, and
severity levels. While it is true that some affected by epilepsy have severe
seizures and cannot work, many others, with other levels of the condition, can
be successful in a wide variety of challenging careers. Despite the variance, research
shows that only 40-60% of people affected by epilepsy are employed in Germany,
Italy and the United States.  In response
to this, those with epilepsy try to hide their disabilities in the workplace.
In the United States today, approximately 3 million Americans with epilepsy
keep it a secret because they fear being treated differently.

            It is important to recognize
discrimination in the workplace against people with epilepsy. This
discrimination increases the self-efficacy issues that people with epilepsy may
already face, and significantly reduces their quality of life. Organizations
such as the Epilepsy foundation and laws such as the Americans with Disabilities
Act aim to prohibit disability based discrimination, but it is important to
educate the public and raise awareness to truly eliminate the stigma.


  • BenderPresident,
         Joyce, and CEO of Bender Consulting Services.. “The Stigma with
         Hidden Disabilities.” Bender Consulting Services | Finding
         employment for people with disabilities
    . N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
  • “Employment
         Topics.” Epilepsy Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct.
  • “Stigma
         of epilepsy. [Can J Neurol Sci. 2008] – PubMed – NCBI.” National
         Center for Biotechnology Information
    . N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
  • “Zonegran.” Welcome
         to the Changing Faces of Epilepsy Web site
    . N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct.
         2013. <


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