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lynxigirl

Work Dinner

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So, every couple months my team has dinner with the general manager so he can keep up with us since we work over nights and he never sees us. Most the time we go to places like Fudruckers, McGraths, Cracker Barrell, things like that. When my manager sent the email yesterday asking what day worked for everyone, I wrote her back explaining that I may not be able to go, depending on where they choose, because of diet restrictions. My team knows of these, in fact a few of them have witnessed me get sicker than sick when I got gluttened and had to go home. Anyway, I told her I wanted to go, gave a list of restraunts that offer gluten-free choices, said I could bring food, or just not go. today in our team meeting in front of everyone she said that the general manager wouldn't like it if I didn't not go, or if i brought my own food so she thought i should just go and socialize. I'm sorry, but this makes me feel like crap and a total outsider and I DON"T WANT TO! :angry: The thing is, they have laid people off for less.

I know I can eat before or after. I know I can have a soda. I also know the GM is a big enough jerk that he is liable to make a HUGE deal if I don't order and EAT. I know most the time salad is safe, but I've been guttened by salad several times already and I haven't even been gluten-free for a full month. I'm restraunt shy because of this. I'm just sitting here feeling like crap, eating my rice crackers and cheese and strawberries thinking this isn't fair.......I've always enjoyed these dinners and now I really feel like crap about this. Sorry for the wine....

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Perhaps your general manager needs to have it pointed out that celiac is covered under the Disabilities Act. To lay you off or fire you because of what you need to do to keep you safe would violate that act. Maybe you could talk to HR about this issue.

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That's awful and you shouldn't be made to feel that way. A suggestion I have is to find out ahead of time where you are dining and call them the day of your dinner. Ask to speak to the manager and explain that you have a wheat allergy (more people understand the concept of allergy) and ask what they can do for you or tell them what you wi be ordering and ask that they give special attention to the prep of your food. Then when you arrive quietly alert the hostess or server who you are and that you called. While in no way ideal and you shouldn't have to go to these lengths it may be a way to do what you need to do to appease your jerk of a boss.

I did this for a very important business dinner where I didn't want to be seen as being difficult or picky and the restaurant was great to work with.

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It sounds like the important part is that it is a required staff meeting, It just happens to be held at a restaruant. Not going would be missing a mandatory meeting. Unless you are a food tester, eating can't be mandatory. I wouldn't have maade a fuss with the GM. I would have just gone and had an iced tea or coffee. If asked why I'm not eating, I would give a brief 2 sentences about Celiac.

Are you doctor diagnosed? Get a note from your doctor saying you can't eat wheat, rye or barley in even the smallest quantities & you must bring your own food.

It sucks to watch others eat but this dinner isn't really about eating.

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If dinner isn't really about eating why does the manager have to have the meeting at a restaurant. There is absolutely no reason for any of us to be required to show up somewhere and watch other people eat. It can be especially emotionally difficult early on. I can tell you that there is absolutely no way in hell I would be bullied by someone into doing so, but then we are all different. If it is something someone doesn't mind doing, that's one thing but there is simply no excuse to bully your employees. Lynxigirl, you gave a list of places you can go. If the manager simply can't choose from one of those and you aren't comfortable showing up and watching other people eat than either don't go, or bring your own food. I also agree with going to HR. There isn't any reason you should feel like you have to choose between your health and your job over this. Bullying isn't just something that happens in schools, and this guy sounds like he sure fits the bill.

Your right that this isn't fair. The work situation isn't fair. Having celiac isn't fair. Life isn't fair. Sometimes you just need to whine and get it all out. Do it, come here and whine your heart out. We totally get it and we'll offer a shoulder and whine a little with you.

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Its not fair, and it stinks. But you should go and just not eat if you aren't comfortable with ordering a salad. (which I understand... my last glutening was a salad, and I still don't know how..but it happens). I often go and just get a pop, if they want to complain about you not eating, then just say simply (unemotionally) I can't eat anything here, I have a few restaurants I can safely go to.

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Perhaps your general manager needs to have it pointed out that celiac is covered under the Disabilities Act. To lay you off or fire you because of what you need to do to keep you safe would violate that act. Maybe you could talk to HR about this issue.

Thank you! YES!!! This is the type of situation in the workplace that drives me to the soapbox. That GM needs to be acquainted with laws (hopefully you're in the U.S.) that govern his actions.

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Right or wrong , business is often conducted over a meal. You don't have to eat. I know it's emotional, but it's your job. If you have to be at a staff meeting and it's held at a restaurant , dont eat. When asked, do as the previous poster said. My hub goes to lots of food related meetings. Sometimes he doesn't eat . Others dont always eat. You can work on getting the next meeting without food, but the rest of the employees wiil not be happy to miss the free meal. Might present the idea as a cost saving measure?

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My biggest problem with this situation isn't how lynxigirl is handling it, but the notion that the meeting is mandatory and not only was the announcement that she cannot bring a snack made clear via public forum to her co-workers, but all this is compounded by the thinking that she may be pressured into ordering/eating food to be fully compliant at the event.

I certainly accept mandatory meetings, and (personally) would certainly eat prior, would not bring a snack (out of sheer personal decorum), but there is no way I would feel shamed or goaded into eating something I could not. Taking this post at face value, that's what riled me the most about lynxigirl's situation.

Lynxigirl, I'm sensing you feel you have no power over this situation, coupled with the fact that you may be feeling a bit left out and down (powerless) about your dietary restrictions. Public announcement about your protected health information was careless and bonehead, just like pressuring you to eat would be harrassment and possibly actionable. But be sure you are clear, calm and free of self-pity before you pick your battle here, even if you keep it to yourself; recognize the situation for what it truly is. I've learned so much from bad managers over the years. In my professional scrapbook, I call them my hysterically funny "DON'T DO THIS" page. As soon as you can handle these situations with grace to your satisfaction, then finally laugh about it, you'll have the power.

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The manager is deliberately being nasty by asking for suggestions on how to accommodate other's wishes, and then publicly attempting to humiliate an employee by denying it in front of the other employees.

I would be looking for another job. Unfortunately this sadistic behavior will only escalate.

I would suggest you contact an attorney for legal advice to learn how to protect yourself if this does escalate. A one hour consultation to learn how to document their actions should do it. "They've laid people off for less...." and you may be eligible for unemployment if they are breaking the law. And if they force you to attend restaurant meetings, and attempt to force you to order food that makes you sick, because "the boss wouldn't like it otherwise," they sure as he(( are breaking the law. "Eating at chain restaurants" is not part of your job description, unless you are part of a traveling sales force....

It is really wrong for anyone here to suggest that the original poster just shut up and go along with it, like ordering unsafe food, if it is at one of those awful chain restaurants that cannot handle it. There are myriad ways that employer- bosses create to harass people without really having to legally fire them, this is one of them.

If they would DARE to complain about my "not eating," at the meeting venue, they would be told, out loud in front of the boss, that it was not safe for me to eat, due to medical reasons... that you were there to conduct business. Period. I wouldn't even be mentioning "celiac" or "gluten intolerance," in front of the other employees, it's none of their **** **** business what the problem is, other than it is a medical diet necessity.

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I totally agree with you Tikala. If any of us heard of a child being treated this way in school we would all be outraged and demand that something be done. Instead, when an adult is bullied we're all telling her to suck it up and roll with it. Lynxigirl never said the meeting is mandatory, just that the manager wouldn't like it if she didn't go. Let's all try to be more supportive here! She's been gluten free less than a month and may simply not have the emotional stamina to sit in a restaurant and watch other people eat food she's still craving and possibly going through withdrawals from. None of us would encourage an alcoholic to go to a bar after 2 weeks sober and tell them to just abstain. Sure, months from now it may be easier on her but right now she's going through a really tough time. To top off all of her struggles with this life changing diet she is being bullied and publicly humiliated by her boss.

Lynxigirl, you said you don't want to go and watch other people eat. So don't! You shouldn't be forced to feel like crap and an outsider by a boss. Sure, it is unfair for one person to rain on everyone's parade but you aren't saying you can't go out, you simply said there is a limited range of options that are safe for you. To top off being bullied already, if you do go he'll try to bully you into eating food that will make you sick. If you haven't already, it can help when we point out what options are safe instead of simply leaving it to chance. (Then again your boss doesn't sound like he'd give a rat's backside.) If he's making you feel like you have to choose between your health and your job it is time to talk to HR. None of us should live our lives in fear of losing our jobs over what we can't or won't eat.

It gets easier. I promise. I've only been gluten free since January but I'm already finding that situations that would have reduced me to tears and been just entirely unbearable then are merely upsetting or annoying now. No, I still wouldn't go out with a bunch of people and watch them eat but I would be more comfortable with things like bringing my own food or advocating other places to eat now. Maybe even one day it will be something I'm comfortable with, just not yet. You'll feel better about this and that and other things at your own pace, and whatever that pace is is perfectly okay. (((hugs)))

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You will have to accept these situations. I am not sure what is wrong with watching people eat. There are a lot of business dinners, buffets, and conventions that will have food you cannot eat. Sometimes I eat, sometimes not. Often I eat something beforehand and have a salad. It is only as big a deal as you make it.

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I'm sorry you are being put in this position so new to your gluten-freeness. However,I believe that if it is a mandatory meeting, you do have to go. You do not, however, have to eat and no one can make you. Kareng's suggestion about getting the note from your doctor would be the way I would handle it. If you are given any flak for not eating you just produce the note and remind them that you made suggestions to your manager of places where you could safely eat, but they chose not to accommodate you. Put ther awkwardness right back on them, rather than you having to feel it. You can even mention that you are feeling harassed for trying to protect your health so that you can continue working if you think you could carry that off.

You do have to learn to deal with these situations, I'm afraid. and it will be a good training lesson in assertiveness. By pointing out that they created this untenable position for you (and by doing so in front of your coworkers who heard the previous lack of accommodation) you are documenting their harassment and providing yourself with witnesses if it comes to that. Hopefully, the general manager is not as big a a jerk as he has been portrayed and sanity will prevail.. The less of a deal that is made of it, the better from your point of view. I would go, order something to drink, and quietly pass when the waiter comes for your food order. If they choose to escalate and make a fuss, then you need some ammunition to fire back :P I may even be tempted to take a recorder in my purse :ph34r:

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Thank you so much everyone. I did give my manager a list of safe restraunts, but don't think they will be listened to. After the meeting yesterday I felt like crap, I still do. This is HARD. I am no stranger to the diet, mom was celiac but she stayed home and cooked and was fine. It's another story being in the work force and working with a bunch of jerks! There, I said it! :P I will feel horrible to go and not be able to eat because yes, I AM still struggling with cravings.....i would kill for alot of things right now and I'd be willing to make a bet I could find those things where they wind up going! :) I don't WANT to make myself sick, I also don't want to be made to feel like **** for not eating. I'm NOT strong enough yet to "just say no". The GM is a ex Marine and he is the best at controlling the situation to his benefit.... I did NOT realize that celiac is covered by the ADA, that is a good piece of info if things do get too obnoxious. I already feel like a freak because they bring in food that I have to say no too, today is cupcakes and cookies. Before yesterday everyone just thought I was on a diet because I've lost 20 lbs in 2 months. Today she stopped by with the tray and she said "oh, you can't have these" after setting them on my desk. I just looked at her and said no and brought out my clorox wipes and cleaned my desk off again becaue my food was right there. I am so greatful for you wonderful people letting me vent and whine about this. I'm sure it's not a new problem and I'm still not sure how I'll handle it, I probably won't until it is decided where the meeting will be held. I am just greatful for people to do "GET IT". You understand WHY I can't and WHY i'm in tears over it. Oh, to answer, I am self diagnosed. I spoke to my dr today and she has seen too many celiac patients tests come out fine that she just has people do gluten-free and then reintroduce some a month later and see what happens. :) She said 99% of the time, that gives the answer clearer and less expensive then any test ever could! :D

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