Scott Buisman has always been open about his epilepsy and absence seizures. He’s had seizures at work in the past and they’ve never been a problem. But a recent seizure caused him to fall and be knocked-out, leading to a hospital visit. With no major injuries he returned to work, yet his employer said he couldn’t be at that location anymore. Scott would have to take a different role and a major pay cut if he wanted to stay.
“The feelings of anger, frustration, and hurt overtook me at that moment and I told them I needed to leave to clear my mind and make the correct decisions for me and my family. I called my wife to let her know what had happened and to pick me up and take me home,” says Scott.
This marked a shift in Scott’s professional and medical life. He was already making the transition to a new medication that reduced his seizure activity. This wasn’t enough for his employer of more than 11 years to agree and keep him in his current position.
Scott and his wife began creating and sending resumes in search of a new job. Ultimately, Scott had to decide between joining a large organization, or a family owned company. He felt the smaller company would fit him best.
“I was correct with my feeling. When I told them about my epilepsy they said it wouldn’t be a problem. They had the normal questions people ask that are unfamiliar with epilepsy and seizures and when I answered their questions they felt better. They have treated me like part of the family since I started and it’s really improved my outlook on people and life.”
Yet, Scott couldn’t get past how his former workplace treated him. He wasn’t sure if what they had done was ethical or legal, and that’s when he reached out to our Information Services staff to ask questions about employment, discrimination, and his options.
“Talking to someone outside of my family was a great help and the advice I was given made me question if I should be contacting the state of North Dakota and asking them about the choices I was given by my former employer. I contacted the state and within a few phone calls and emails they decided to investigate my former employer for charges of medical discrimination,” says Scott.
Scott shares this experience to educate employers on how their decisions affect people and their families. Not only is the loss of a job or forcing lower pay wrong, it brings with it stress and mental challenges.
“While trying to figure out my next step I struggled with my own self-worth. My wife convinced me that I didn’t need them [former employer]. I thanked her for staying by my side and the encouraging words of comfort to help me get past this bump in the road of life.”
Having a support network in place helped Scott when he needed it. The conversations with our staff helped him take action, and the backing from his wife made a tough situation manageable.
“What I have gone through over the last four months has been horrible for myself and my family, but all of this has made us stronger and closer to each other.”