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Autism Speaks Accused Of Disability Discrimination

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The mother of a teen with autism is suing Autism Speaks for allegedly rescinding a job offer after she requested workplace accommodations so she could care for her son.

Simone Greggs, 44, says that officials at Autism Speaks violated the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when the nonprofit took back an offer of employment this spring just days before she was scheduled to start work.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month, Greggs said that she was supposed to start her new job as a walk events manager at Autism Speaks’ Washington, D.C. office in early May after successfully completing five different interviews, a pre-employment background check and a drug test.

But Greggs said everything changed after she asked her new employer if they would accommodate an alternate work schedule or allow her to work from home on Wednesdays when her son’s school let out early.

Greggs was told that such accommodation would not be possible. She then made other arrangements for her son, but was subsequently informed by Autism Speaks managers that they were “rescinding the employment offer because they did not want to make any accommodations for the care of her autistic child,” the court filing says.

In her suit, Greggs is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Nonetheless, she said the legal action is not about money but principle for her. Once a supporter of Autism Speaks, Greggs said she is outraged.

“They say one thing and they do another,” the Upper Marlboro, Md. mom said of the nonprofit. “You can’t say that you’re for helping families with children with autism and then you can’t give me an accommodation.”

Balancing work with caregiving obligations is often a struggle for parents of those with autism. A 2009 study found that moms of children on the spectrum were interrupted at work one out of every four days compared to less than one in 10 days for other moms. Another study, published this spring, found that moms of children with autism earn an average of 56 percent less than parents of typically developing kids. Accordingly, several researchers have cited workplace flexibility as a top need for parents raising children with special needs.

In Greggs’ case, in addition to losing out on the job she thought was lined up, she turned down another job offer from the Democratic National Committee in April because she expected to be working at Autism Speaks, the complaint said.

“It was devastating,” said Greggs who has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “I couldn’t believe that this happened.”

The lawsuit, which was served Monday, names Autism Speaks’ former president Mark Roithmayr; Ann Gibbons, executive director of the group’s Washington, D.C. office; Tracey Wilbanks, regional director; and Pat DeSaules and Linda LePage in the organization’s human resources department.

Autism Speaks addressed the matter in a statement to Disability Scoop late Thursday.

“Autism Speaks is committed to employing parents and other family members of people with autism, as well as individuals on the spectrum,” the organization said.

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Comments (42 Responses)

  1. BelieveIt says:

    Same thing happened to me a couple years ago, at a 15-hour-a-week public library job in Virginia. I was interviewed, did background check, fingerprinted, etc., and was offered the job. During the interview we discussed my hours. I have an autistic child who cannot go to daycare, so I was available to work during school hours, and any evening or weekend. The boss said she wasn’t sure what my exact schedule was going to be yet, but that it “shouldn’t be a problem.” I completed one week of training, and then they posted the schedule for my first official week on the job. They had me down for all afternoon hours! I reminded them that I could work during school hours, or any evening or weekend, but no afternoons. They were very cagey, then the next day the boss called to tell me she didn’t see how she could schedule my 15 hours over just school hours, evenings and weekends (!?) and that this just “wasn’t going to work out.” What?! I didn’t sue, but I should have. I was most definitely being discriminated against. This was the first job that ever “fired” me, and I’ve worked my whole life. I was let go because the boss wasn’t interested in accommodating me to allow me to care for my autistic child after school. It was more hassle than she was willing to deal with. I still get spitting mad when I think of it.

  2. MaryTormey says:

    So now they don’t want to hire parents of Autisic children, unless they come from the marketing department of Ortho-Mcneil-Janssen?

  3. KA101 says:

    Not hugely surprising, and probably won’t kill or cripple aut$peaks, unfortunately. But the order of people in that statement (parents/family of spectrum members, *then* spectrum members) is another helpful hint about where their priorities lie.

    We’re better off without them.

  4. Beth says:

    I feel so very blessed to work in an environment that allows me to adjust my schedule, within reason, to accomodate the needs of my son who just happens to have autism. This is so unfortunate.

  5. Doris Perez says:

    Autism Speaks is reliable. Life with autism is dramatic. Sadly, I hope this kind of random claims do not undermine the titanic job, and the goals volunteers have achieved.

  6. Sonja Luchini says:

    Except when they’re NOT….

  7. LuLu says:

    I have also experienced discrimination from certain groups and agencies which are purportedly in place to assist the so-called “dis-abled.” I pray she wins.

  8. Sue says:

    I have seen a few people misquote the allegation here, so I will try and make it clear that she didn’t withhold that she was going to need an accommodation and if you read carefully, the issue is that she made the request, they said no and then she made alternate arrangements so that the request would no longer be an issue. However, even though it wasn’t going to be an issue anymore, they rescinded the offer thus making it appear as though the reason they were rescinding had nothing to do with the accommodation itself but did have to do with the fact that she would be caring for a child that would demand much attention and possibly distract her from her work. You are not allowed to discriminate this way in employment matters and if she can successfully prove the timeline of events, she should most certainly win this case and thus this organization that claims to “speak” for those on the spectrum and their families will be showcased for it’s true colors–as a corporate group more interested in money than in anything of actual substantial change to the lives of those affected by autism.

  9. Sonja L says:

    Didn’t put my full comment up: ” ‘Autism Speaks is committed to employing parents and other family members of people with autism, as well as individuals on the spectrum’, the organization said.”

    …except when they’re NOT….(committed).

  10. Barb says:

    I have been looking for a part-time job for 2 years that will accommodate my sons’ (yes, I have two diasbled young adult sons at home) schedules as I need to be home with them before and after their program/school. Can’t get an offer from anybody. One person ffered me a job, but when I said that I could not work over the summer as I would have to pay out more for a cargiver to come into my home than I would make, they would not hire me. Such is the life of a mom with children with disaiblitites. I could work beofer they got to an age where they were too old for day care. Now that they are young adults, it is impossible to find affordable care for them so I can work.

  11. Sherry says:

    I believe accomodations are for the person WITH the disability not the caregiver. Not to be harsh but if the caregiver could get accomadations then pretty much anyone could ask for accomodations (reasonable and unreasonable). For example if an employer hired a person whose spouse is an alcholic (a disease/disability) and the person needed Mondays off because her/his spouse was incapacitated most Mondays and needed assistance, the employer would have to accomodate this. Or if a child of an employee has ADHD and can’t work certain days because she/ he has no child care those days, the employer would have to accomodate this. To me this is unreasonable.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unsympathetic to parents who have children with disabilities, I have a child with multiple disabilities and I worked with people with developmental disabilities 16 years prior to having my daughter. I think the real issue here is that an organization who you would think would be accomodating to you and your child is an agency that promotes awareness and such for the disability that your child has. Sadly, I don’t think this is the case with many disability agencies.

  12. Amy says:

    Autism speaks local chapter in Illinois failed to follow through on repeated offers to have children with autism help stuff env elopes for a large mailing. I always suspected this organization was just about the money and not really about those it proposes to serve.

  13. Sue says:

    Sherry, understand your point but again if you read the actual text carefully she made arrangements so that she NO LONGER NEEDED the accommodation. It was after they knew that, that they took the offer for employment away. That looks really bad from any standpoint. The only new information they had then was that she had a child with a disability to take care of–this that means they discriminated against a protected class for employment purposes.

  14. BelieveIt says:

    @Sherry

    I don’t believe it’s at all unusual for a good employer to provide reasonable accommodations for a caregiver of a disabled child. Decent employers provide accommodations like this all the time, even for an employee caring for an elderly parent or ailing spouse.

    Your example of someone with an alcoholic husband demanding days off to help nurse his hangover is a straw man. I wouldn’t expect an employer to let an employee off work again and again because she can’t find childcare for her child with ADHD (or whatever), although I certainly think a compassionate approach is called for even in that situation. The difference in the case here is that the employee’s personal situation was clearly spelled out in advance and the employer agreed to this, only to later rescind the job offer. This is the exact same thing that happened to me. I know now to never say the word “autism” in a job interview, ever. I won’t even mention the fact that I have kids unless I’m asked.

    It sounds to me like Auti$m $peaks took away the job offer once they realized they were dealing with an employee who had a complicated life. Yet it’s autistic people who get called rigid and inflexible!

  15. Michael Reeves says:

    ‘Autism Speaks is reliable. Life with autism is dramatic. Sadly, I hope this kind of random claims do not undermine the titanic job, and the goals volunteers have achieved.’

    No it isn’t. As an Autistic Autism Speaks has proven again and again to be a hate-spewing organisation deluding some parents and feeding bigoted standards to others. Life with Autism is fine. The only thing titanic about Autism Speaks is how disingenuous it is.

  16. Sherry says:

    Sue, If you CAREFULLY read MY post, I’m talking in generalities. Also you need to remember that just because something is in writing doesn’t make it so. I have my doubts that a disability agency told a perspective employee that they weren’t going to hire her because “they did not want to make any accommodations for the care of her autistic child”. Most employers are so afraid of getting sued that they don’t give reasons for not hiring someone or even give adequate references anymore. Please don’t say I didn’t carefully read the article because she WAS offered the job, it doesn’t matter and I’m not saying that that wasn’t the reason she wasn’t hired. It may in fact be the reason she didn’t get the job, I don’t know and neither does anyone reading the article, it is one sided.

  17. Susan Treptow says:

    You can not say you work to help families and then be non negotiable to a parent whose child has autism. That defeats the purposes of their organization. I hope she wins her case and teaches them a lesson.

  18. Thomas C. Wood says:

    Pretty typical of “Autism Speaks”.
    They are a “curebie” organization who wants to rid America of us “Autistics”.
    I do not want to be cured.

  19. rebecca says:

    actually, Sherry, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects those with disabilities and well as those associated with people with disabilities, including caregivers, and those perceived to have a disability so the law applies here.

  20. Tacitus says:

    Now we see the ugly face of the beast! The 501(c) non-profit with the highest paid CEO suddenly is not there for the little guy. The marketing campaigns for vaccine conspiracy theories and eugenic “science” has no need for actual people with actual autistics in their lives. All the help they are providing is revealed to be only for themselves, and not autistic people or their caregivers.

  21. Violet says:

    I work for a large company who tried to fire me (as they did so many others) because I was on FMLA to care for my son who is on the Spectrum. My leader (after I reported her for previous abuses and interference on my son’s FMLA appts.) drummed up phoney charges on my work and leadership skills until she went too far and brought other employees into it and the company had to back down. They demoted her, but they also put me in another department and continued to retailiate against me. It’s been about ten years. I trained everyone and corrected all of the issues in the department and everyone in the department was promoted except me. I have watched all of those that I trained get 2 to 4 promotons while I haven’t had one. I was told I had to set my priorities and that the others are more qualified. Yet, I am now lower than they are and I review their work. If anyone knows of any good lawyer, please let me know. I can’t see why this would not be covered under the FMLA, ADA, Civil Rights Act, etc. I’d like to stop this company from doing these things to me and others. People on FMLA in there are treated horribly.

  22. violetred says:

    This is as much a women’s rights issue as a disability rights issue. It is largely women who have to rearrange their schedules to care for children, whether they are disabled or not. As a result, we apply for part-time, lower paying jobs that will hopefully be more flexible. The problem with these jobs, is that you are usually replaceable; these are not jobs that are highly technical or specialized, or require specific skills. And the employer would rather replace you than accomodate you.

    If we as a society truly value children, people with disabilities, the elderly…these things would not be happening. Employers would welcome the chance to help a woman with a disabled child find work. They would also welcome the chance to help her child find work. Our morals about this would drive our actions. Instead, we are an amoral society that is driven by greed and not kindness.

  23. Kate says:

    There appears to be case law that covers this issue, per the ADA, quoted and sourced below:

    “No right to accommodations:
    In Overley v. Covenant Transportation (6th Cir. April 27, 2006), another court noted the protections are restricted. Unlike a claim brought by a disabled person, an employer is not required to reasonably accommodate an employee based on her association with a disabled person. 29 C.F.R. Pt. 1630, App. (§ 1630.8) [footnote]; Den Hartog v. Wasatch Academy, 129 F.3d 1076, 1084-85 (10th Cir. 1997). [See Senate Report at 30; House Labor Report at 61-62; House Judiciary Report at 38-39.] Thus a parent cannot claim that an employer discriminated against her by not granting her sufficient time off or allowing her to modify her schedule so that she could care for her daughter. An employee who cannot meet the attendance requirements of her job is not protected by § 12112(b)(4). See Tyndall v. National Education Centers., Inc. of Cal., 31 F.3d 209, 213 (4th Cir. 1994) (reaching this conclusion by analyzing the statute’s legislative history and governing regulations). Courts have surmised that an employee would be protected under the statute if the employee was only distracted at work, but did not require a reasonable accommodation, Larimer, 370 F.3d at 700, or if the employer’s decision was based solely on an unsubstantiated belief that the employee would have to miss work because of the association, Tyndall, 31 F.3d at 213.” Sourced at this link: http://www.stepnowskilaw.com/ADA-Parents.html

    In the complaint it was stated that Autism Speaks could not accommodate her autistic child, in changing the schedule, as the schedule required Ms. Gregg to be in attendance at work on a regular basis from 9 am to 5 pm. While Ms. Gregg claims the reason her employment offer was rescinded was because of her disabled child, Autism Speaks has not provided information on their legal defense, however if it was based on a reasonable concern that she would not be able to meet the employer requirement in job attendance, that is within the legal rights of the organization, per case law described above. It’s likely the reason there was a conference call, so there would be no question of the circumstances associated with rescinding the employment offer. If Autism Speaks did not pursue this in court, or offered preferential treatment to this potential hire not provided in similar positions, then they would have a problem, as it would potentially set a precedent for preferential treatment, as well as anyone to follow the precedent in hopes to gain a financial settlement out of court in an attempt to sue the organization in a similar circumstance. Autism Speaks appears to have stood their legal ground and are willing to protect their rights as an employer through legal defense rather than settling out of court. It appears that Ms. Gregg may be representing herself in the case, if so, she doesn’t have much to lose, by pursuing her claim, per potential attorney fees.

    There are some positions in organizations where employees are required to be in the office during normal working hours; an organization cannot afford to reasonably be expected to treat some employees through preferential treatment and not expect to have to treat all other employees in the same manner in similar positions.

    Charitable organizations have the same concerns associated with employment issues such as this, as any other organization. They likely have other employees with autistic children that are expected to meet a regular schedule of attendance to meet employment requirements. One really can’t expect to go into a new job, when this type of requirement exists and expect to receive preferential treatment that is not provided to other employees in similar positions, if that is the case.

    It is not likely that this is going to make the minority of people that hate autism speaks because of their mission and goals, hate the organization any less. But, once the case leaves the court, and legal decisions are provided, Autism Speaks will be able to provide their legal rationale. If it is based on their right to expect employees to work a regular schedule, when regular attendance in a set schedule is reasonably required, it’s not likely going to upset any of the millions of people that already support the organization’s mission and goals.

  24. heather hudson says:

    This is outrageous-I feel for this mom and nolonger will subscribe to Autism Speaks.

  25. HCShannon says:

    Autism Speaks is to people with Autism and related disorders what PETA is to animals.

  26. Sherry says:

    @ BelieveIt

    I was talking legally not what a good employer would do and if ADA covered caregivers they would have to provide accomodations for the examples given (if it is proven or known they have those diseases/disabilities).

    Also the article reads that she let them know about the need only AFTER getting the job offer. I don’t see anywhere that the employee’s personal situation was clearly spelled out in advance.

    @ rebecca
    See Kate’s post.

    @Kate
    Thanks for posting the case law and regulation.

    I’m not for or against Autism Speaks or Ms. Greggs, I’m just making general comments regarding accomodations.

  27. kate says:

    Per the complaint, Ms. Greggs was accepted for employment on April 23 and was scheduled to start employment on May 7th.

    Positions identical to the one Ms. Greggs was applying for, are still posted on the internet, and they clearly indicate a requirement of a working schedule from 9 a.m. to 5 pm.

    Instead of discussing whether or not flexibility could be afforded in scheduling during the interview process or immediately after her acceptance of employment on April 23th, Ms. Greggs, waited to inform the employer of her child care issue on May 6th, Sunday, the day before she was scheduled to start working.

    The complaint itself seems to contradict itself, in that in the “nature of the claim” section of the complaint it states that “the Plaintiff then made other arrangements and was able to retain a babysitter for her son for that day. Defendants then rescinded the employment offer. When Plaintiff asked why, Defendants wouldn’t tell her and then blurred out a derogatory remark. When Plaintiff tried to contact the CEO, Defendants threatened a harassment suit on the Plaintiff.”

    But, in the factual allegations per #15, it is stated as follows: “On May 7, 2012, a conference call took place with Ms. Greggs, which included, Ms. Gibbons, Ms. DeSaules, Ms. Wilbanks, and Ms. LePage, stating that they were rescinding the employment offer because they did not want to make any accommodations for the care of her Autistic child.”

    First it is stated that Autism Speaks did not give a reason for rescinding the employment and then a different account is provided in factual allegation #15 that Autism Speaks provided the reason was that they did not want to make any accommodations for the care of her Autistic Child”. And in that factual allegation the alleged “blurred” (which I’m guessing was a typo for blurted) derogatory remark or threat of harassment suit was not even mentioned. There is likely more to that conference call that the employees from autism speaks witnessed, that will be provided during the trial.

    Per case law, that I listed in my last post, autism speaks as an employer had the right to refuse accommodations if those accommodations were not reasonable. It is not the employers responsibility to make accommodations for the care of any disabled individual, when part of the requirements of the position are to work a set schedule, per case law that I provided in my previous post.

    A very limited account of the conference call was provided in factual allegation #15, on May 7th. It is not stated who called whom, or whether or not the issue was discussed further, before the offer was rescinded.

    However, if the decision to rescind the position was based strictly on the events of May 6th, which we don’t know at this point, that in itself would likely have been reason enough to rescind the offer, if higher level management discussed the events of May 6th with Ms Gibbons, and determined it was not a responsible action to wait until the weekend on a Sunday before employment to try to negotiate an accommodation in schedule, when the prospective employee knew that a regular working schedule was a requirement of the position from the start of the process, per the job announcement description.

    However, since allegation #15 specifically states Autism Speaks was not willing to provide the accommodation, at this point we don’t if it was discussed again in the conversation by Ms. Greggs, or whether she made the phone call to discuss the issue again.

    It was an intelligent business decision to provide a conference call with a number of Autism Speaks employees, to verify the statements that were made in that conference call. So far all we have is a very limited statement from the Defendant as to what the full nature of that conference call was.

    Autism speaks could have avoided the bad press, provided by the accusation, by settling out of court, however they are not selling vehicles, they are providing services to help people, and wouldn’t seem reasonable to me to use the funds of supporters, to settle an attempt to sue the organization with this type of allegation, if it is not based on solid legal grounds.

    That’s the price of running any organization; people will sue, if they feel like their rights have been imposed on, but there are always two sides of the story, one of which has been told so far by the defendant. The way I see it at this point, it’s not likely she has a winnable case, even if autism speaks lawyers were not to provide anything other than the evidence that Ms. Greggs has provided so far, along with applicable case law.

  28. kate says:

    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/autism-speaks-complaint.pdf

    Sorry I forget to post the link to full complaint, to reference the points I made per the full complaint.

    The issues comes into better focus when one reads the entire complaint.

  29. KA101 says:

    OK, so whoever drafted the complaint either is bucking for a change in precedent or was inartful. Nothing that an amended complaint can’t fix.

    Problem is, the caselaw cited is about complainants actually missing work and being fired on that basis. Where the complainant is terminated based on fear that the complainant would miss work–but hasn’t actually missed any–then that’s discrimination.

    Let’s go over the statutory law again:

    42 US Code (Chapter 126,) Sec. 12112 defines discrimination in an employment context. Subparagraph (b)(4) makes “excluding or otherwise denying equal jobs or benefits to a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association” actionable discrimination.

    So denying the otherwise qualified mother of an autistic child a job because of her child’s autism–denying an equal job to an otherwise qualified individual, based on the disability of a person with whom she has a (familial & caregiver) relationship–is illegal. Recall: she made alternate arrangements so as to avoid having to change the schedule, so accommodations are no longer a factor.

    Granted, we don’t yet have a full accounting of all the facts: the case has not yet survived motions for summary judgment, let alone discovery or trial. But I’m still supporting the parent here.

  30. kate says:

    @KA101

    First of all, the complainant was not terminated because she never started work. An offer of employment was rescinded. The complainant does not allege in the complaint that she was terminated based on fear that she would miss work, the complainant first alleges in the complaint that the organization did not give reason for rescinding the offer of employment and then later in the factual allegations of the complaint alleges that the organization rescinded the offer of employment because they didn’t want to make any accommodations for the care of her autistic son.

    The law protects discrimination based on unwarranted fear that an employee that has a disabled dependent might miss work, but it does not protect an employer’s right to refuse workplace accommodations when the accommodations cannot be provided based on the requirements of the position in question.

    At this point, since the complainant provides conflicting information on whether a reason was given or not for the rescinding employment in the complaint, it is not clear if a specific reason was given, or if instead she provided an opinion of why the organization rescinded employment in her later statement in the complaint.

    It is highly unlikely that a representative of autism speaks actually told the complainant with 3 autism speaks officials witnessing a conference call that they were rescinding an offer of employment because they were unwilling to make accommodations for the care of her autistic son, unless there was still an issue of the complainant needing an accommodation that autism speaks could not provide at some point in the future. Considering the first statement in the complaint states that no reason was given, that is the more likely scenario, since autism speaks was under no legal obligation to provide a reason for rescinding the offer of employment.

    For any prospective employee to wait until the day before employment on a Sunday to resolve a serious issue in a required working schedule instead of attempting to resolve the issue two weeks earlier when the offer of employment was provided, is reason enough for any organization to rescind an offer of employment per a business based decision, regardless of what the issue was that required a schedule change for the prospective employee.

    I have no idea if that was the reason that the organization rescinded the employment offer, but the organization was well within their rights to rescind the employment offer for any business based reason other than illegal discrimination.

    If the complaint is not corrected for consistency on this point, I can’t imagine it surviving summary judgement. It does not appear that an attorney has been involved in the process so far for the complainant. It is not likely Autism Speaks will provide any more information than they have on the issue, as it remains a private personnel issue, as long as it doesn’t go to court.

  31. KA101 says:

    If you’re saying the parent is proceeding pro se (w/o attorney) then that would explain the drafting problems as well as the failure to wait for the EEOC.

    But courts typically show a certain amount of deference to pro se litigants: the response is probably going to be along the lines of “fix it and come back when/if the EEOC process ends”, rather than “dismissed with prejudice”.

    Unfortunately I’m not licensed in DC, so I can’t help the parent myself.

  32. Kate says:

    KA101,

    Just the apparent spelling mistake of blurring instead of blurting, is a good indication that a law firm was not involved in the drafting of the complaint.

    My feeling is that the complainants intentions are sincere, but not well informed, and autism speaks intentions were based on standard business policy, as that is how the organization is run, with access to the highest levels of business and legal expertise. The interaction of those two elements with the employer and prospective employee apparently has led to a conflict, that could not be resolved in a conference call.

    Per the complaint, the complainant filed a complaint within 24 hours of the conference call. Not likely time to seek professional advice and receive it, but if she is reading these blogs, hopefully some of the neutral opinions of individuals that have no strong emotions invested in the autism speaks controversies, will provide a direction for the complainant to seek further advice from a professional. It’s not going to be helpful for the majority here to agree with her, when constructive criticism of what appear to be obvious errors in the drafting of the complaint, might provide incentive for her to move in a more positive direction to support her goals, specific to this issue.

    I’m guessing from your comment that you are a licensed lawyer, and if you have any experience with employee/employer issues with discrimination, the circumstances of the case, particularly the allegation that 4 executives of the autism speaks organization would work in tandem in a conference call to actually say anything that would come close to actually exceeding their legal rights in one of the most common employee/employer negotiations of childcare/scheduling issues for an employee, is extremely unlikely.

    Obviously, a great many people, have expressed an opinion that autism speaks has a moral obligation to provide accommodations for the childcare needs of their employees, bending to the employee will and their disabled children’s needs, because they are an autism advocacy organization. But the organization is playing by similar business rules applicable to other well run businesses/organizations.

    The employee/employer relationship is not a personal friendship it is a business relationship. When properly executed, it provides equitable standards for all employees, avoiding the potential perception of preferential treatment per specific employees, by bending away from standard policies to individual employee will.

    These comments come and go, and controversies associated with Autism Speaks continue on, but no organization can effectively execute a mission, if they don’t adhere to appropriate and effective organizational standards and policies. It’s impossible to make everyone happy with their business decisions, as I understand is the case with some of the comments on this website, per their decisions on the vaccine controversies. That is an interesting issue in itself as autism speaks continues to be criticized by some in the autism community as a pro-vaccine organization and criticized by others as an anti-vaccine organization, when they appear to have followed a reasonable middle path focusing on reasonable concerns of science that continue to exist. There is no direction the organization could have taken on this very controversial issue that was not going to result in significant criticism. In my opinion the organization moved in the direction of science, which appears to be a reasonable direction for a research organization.

    Science and the scientific method, isn’t the most popular element of society, neither is reason, as we all are biased by our emotions, with or without autism.

    I think that is why legal representation is so important; the language of law attempts to take the element of bias and emotion out of the equation.:) It’s not usually 100 percent effective, but it takes a pretty good stab at that goal. People that write their own complaints, most of the time, miss the finer points of the law, as well as detail in general. Otherwise, lawyers wouldn’t play the role they do in society.

    My experience is not in law, it is government/business, which almost requires a law degree to navigate, and by the time one finishes a career some likely deserve an honorary degree.:)

  33. Victoria says:

    Many people do not understand how difficult childcare can be to arrange for a child with autism. The grandparents will not have anything to d with my 6 year old son no matter how I try to convince them. They will watch my daughter but say they cannot deal with my autistic son. Same with regular babysitters, neighbors, day camps, many daycare facilities, etc. There is little support system to turn to and professional help is much more expensive than regular daycare. This makes for an amazingly difficult issue when we moms want or need to work, go to school, or go to an appointment.

  34. Bill says:

    Autism speaks and other large organizations like them actually do very little to improve the lives of individuals on the spectrum or their families. I am a father to 3 children with autism and I can tell you first hand that as my wife and I have been involved with other parents of children on the spectrum, and been involved in local efforts to start summer camps, that getting grants or any type of assistance from Autism Speaks or The Autism society of America is an exercise in futility. They have lost their family focus and instead directed their resources to research projects and lobbying.

  35. Rosella A. Alm says:

    DO THE NEXT THING!
    My son who has autism will be 47 in September. Although his father and I tried working for other people when he was young, it was too difficult. There were always interruptions, and one or both of us would have to leave our job to pick up our son at school.

    We started to work from home, since my husband was a multi-talented man, and I could learn whatever necessary from him. We became well-known for building restaurant booths and tables throughout Southern California. We successfully did this for 27 years, until my husband retired with illness.

    After that I continued to work at home as an advocate for people with disabilities as a vendor for several regional centers. For many years I provided supported living services for him, but we now employ an agency to provide these services for him. I maintain my office in the home where my son lives.

  36. Carmelita Campos says:

    In our Angelman Syndrome Faundation FAST, almost every one if not EVERY ONE that works there has a child with the Syndrome and they all do a great job for us,( even thou They all are Voluntiers and don’t get paid). ANGELMAN Syndrome occurs 1in 15’000 to 20’000 live births (some misdiagnosed with cerebral palsy or Autism)
    God Bless this Mom of an Autistic Angel. <3
    We have to fight all the time for our Children and even more when they are special needs.

  37. Jaye says:

    “In her suit, Greggs is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Nonetheless, she said the legal action is not about money but principle for her. Once a supporter of Autism Speaks, Greggs said she is outraged.”

    Not about the money but seeking punitive damages??? So, you’re looking to prove a principle by punishing the same non-profit you supported by taking potentially millions of dollars out of their hands?

    Go ahead and seek your compensatory damages. But suing for punitive just really proves what you’re all about.

  38. Theresa says:

    OK so here it is, in a nutshell: I have full empathy for parents of dis-abled children but also for parents of children with no apparent disability. Discrimination occurs at an alarming rate, as a single-parent I faced it on a daily basis but didn’t have the time, resources or energy to fight it. My children had no apparent disability and therefore I did NOT qualify for any accommodation with regard to work hours and childcare availability. I was forced to teach them to be as self sufficient as possible to allow me to work for their support. I have an autistic granddaughter whom I have high regard for but I will expect that her mother (my daughter) will face equal discrimination in the workplace but not due to dis-ability so much as discrimination against working parents.

  39. Lebowski says:

    Even organizations that exist to help society have business needs that must be addressed during certain hours of the day, regardless of when and for how long the applicants prefer and are willing to work outside of those hours. That does not make the organization bad or hypocritical at all – just like it does not make the applicant lazy or unreasonable to only be available to work when her child’s school schedule permits. Not every applicant and job are a match.

  40. Autistic says:

    “But suing for punitive just really proves what you’re all about.”

    Yeah, that a Hate group should be squeezed to death for every cent that it would use to oppress us

  41. A. Girl says:

    Autism Speaks?
    Maybe, but as we just saw… not through this organization (wich is named actually “AutismSpeaks”)

    We live in a crazy world… Anyone wanna find a cure this time for “being normal”? It is a wide spread disease… :P

  42. Amanda says:

    I have been to autism speaks with my son to see what help they could give us and they did nothing but waste our time and gas getting there.

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