Severe Peanut Allergys & \"the office\"


I am so allergic to peanuts that I go into anaphalyxis if I even smell them.

I am a church bookkeeper and work in the main office - sharing office space with the church secretary and an open desk for guests, associate pastors, volunteers, etc.

I haven't had a reaction in over a year, but I have had 2 in the past month due to people eating peanuts in the office. My boss ACTUALLY gave me peanut M&M's for valentine's day last week! (She wasn't going to be in today so she gave them to us last week.) She has an allergy to chocolate and is very rude about it. When she gave me the peanut M&M's, I said thank you for thinking of me and got them out of the office as fast as I could, but my co-worker ATE HERS! This after she brought a pb&j sandwich 3 weeks ago and sent me to the ER!

Anyway, today, I asked my boss if we could make the office a peanut free zone and if I could put a small sign on the door saying so. She laughed, called me stupid and said no.

Am I right to be upset? I want to go to the church board and say something. Heck, I want to invoke the Americans with Disabilities Act or something.

Besides crying or quitting, which I am thinking of doing, does anyone have any suggestions? I really need some advice.

BTW, I am a 44 year old mom of 4, with 3 still at home with life long pa. I love my job, but don't necessarily HAVE to keep this job. I can find another one.

On Feb 14, 2005

Ya know what? I forgot to tell you all... my boss is the PASTOR of the church!!! I guess that's why I am so angry.

On Feb 15, 2005

Hi mamabutterfly, and welcome to the board.

I have adult onset allergies to peanuts and sesame seeds.

Sorry, I can't really help you with what you are going through at work (I'm a stay-at-home mom). But, I can relate to working for a pastor with a similar attitude. (Wasn't allergy related, but definitely sounds like they were both pretty uncaring for people who chose such a caring profession. [img][/img] )

Anyway, I did want to welcome you to the board, and there are some other adults here who DO work, so hopefully they will be popping in soon to. [img][/img]

On Feb 15, 2005

Thanks Anne-Marie. I am so glad I found a place with people who understand peanut allergies!! And, I am glad to hear from someone who understands a frustrating pastor!

On Feb 15, 2005

Wow. That sounds yucky. Sorry, I have no advice!

On Feb 15, 2005


Originally posted by mamabutterfly: [b]Anyway, today, I asked my boss if we could make the office a peanut free zone and if I could put a small sign on the door saying so. She laughed, called me stupid and said no.[/b]

Sounds like your pastor refuses to be can lead a horse to water. You should document everything with dates. Make notes of her comments, ie. "stupid". Then write the whole business up and go over her head with it.

Meanwhile you should start job searching.

------------------ Jean one DS PA; one DS seasonal allergies & oral allergy syndrome

On Feb 15, 2005

Hi Mammabutterfly and welcome!

I'm sorry to here what all you are going through. It's bad enough that there are so many people around that don't understand about allergies, but your work area should feel just as safe as your home. It sounds like you are really facing a difficult decision. Church should not be that way at all, especially your pastor. How frustrating. Do they not understand that the reasons you went to the ER were b/c of them? I really hope things get better for you soon!

Best wishes! Belinda

On Feb 15, 2005

That is infuriating! If you want to put a lot of energy into this there are a few options...send her tons of info from the different food allergy groups like FAAN, Food Allergy Initiative, Asthma and Allergy Foundation, etc. Or just start leaving some information in some strategic spots that would catch her eye. Maybe highlight the most significant lines. Or have your doctor write a note explaining the risks involved when you are exposed to peanuts. You may want to draft a brief, point blank, objective note that your doctor can just sign...then bring it to her and nicely explain to her that you are concerned about your health and it seems that she does not understand the risks involved. Then present her with some literature, that she can review to better understand your situation and that of many other people that attend the church. Perhaps see if the church would be willing to host an allergy seminar. Things like that that would force her to be more respectful of the issue.

Otherwise, find a new job! She may never understand and in that case is not worth risking your life by staying there! But it would be worth writing a letter the folks above her, explaining why you are leaving.

On Feb 15, 2005

Thank you all so much!! It feels so good to talk to people who understand! :c)

I called my mother last night. (Hubby is working out of town and Mama is a better listener! LOL!) Anyway, Mama had the best solution! She knows the Americans with Disabilities Act forwards and backwards. Did you all know that in PA is a recognized disability? Together, we drafted the following letter. Today, I put a door sign together - really cute if I say so myself - with a little note on the bottom that this is a peanut free office. I decided to give it to my boss for approval. If she doesn't approve it, then I will give her and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee this letter.


I have a severe allergy to peanuts. I can not even breath in peanut fumes. I go into anaphylactic shock. Simply put, breathing in a room that contains open peanuts, peanut butter, peanut candy and peanut products constitutes a life-threatening situation for me.

Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reaction. In some cases, anaphylaxis is mild, causing only hives and itching. But it can be deadly. In anaphylactic shock, the most severe form of anaphylaxis, blood pressure drops severely; water rapidly leaves the blood stream, causing severe swelling; and bronchial tissues swell dramatically. This causes the person to choke and collapse. Anaphylactic shock is fatal if not treated immediately. I generally have 20-30 minutes to take antihistamines, caffeine and if necessary, use an epi-pen and go to the emergency room for treatment.

When I was hired, I told everyone in the office, and people coming into the office of my allergy. I have tried to let everyone know how dangerous this is for me, without making a fuss or creating a hostile environment in the church office. I have not had an allergic reaction to peanuts in over a year, until this year. Peanuts and peanut products have been brought into the office several times this calendar year. To me, this is a life-threatening situation.

According to personnel handbook, issued January 2005, Page 7, section 210, paragraph C, CHURCH affirms its commitment to adhere to the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disability Act enacted on July 26, 1990. Severe peanut allergies are a recognized disability under the ADA. I am asking for reasonable accommodations under the ADA; I respectfully request that the office be made a peanut-product-free zone and that small, inconspicuous signs be put on both office doors stating same.

Wish me luck!!! Mama Butterfly

On Feb 17, 2005

Good Luck! Let us know how it goes!

On Feb 18, 2005

You might seriously want to consider working at another place. Several years ago I worked as a church secretary for a couple of years. I learned from bitter experience that clergy almost never admit it when they are wrong.

On Feb 20, 2005

I talked to the chairman of the staff-parish relations committee. He said not to worry. If I can't get the pastor to come around and put the sign up, he will step in and it will be done. Luckily for me, but sadly for him, his son is pa!!

I will let you all know what happens tomorrow.

On Feb 22, 2005

The pastor did have a change of heart. The signs are now up. I wish they didn't have to be up, but I am happy!

Thanks for listening. It really did help me get thru all of this.

On Feb 22, 2005

Glad to hear things worked out. [img][/img]

On Feb 24, 2005

Thanks AnneMarie. :c)

I have to say, I am very vocal about it in the office now, too. I tell everyone!

On Mar 24, 2005

Just wondering how the job is going now?