Woman too allergic to peanuts to get a job

Rachel Foy wants her condition to be classified as a disability

Woman too allergic to peanuts to get a job

A graduate has been forced to live on the dole because her allergy to peanuts is so severe that employers will not keep her on.

Rachel Foy, 21, faces potentially deadly anaphylactic shock from the breath of someone who has eaten the nuts and has revealed one job she got lasted just two hours.

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The history graduate from Cardiff, who achieved a 2:1 from the city's university, is calling on her condition to be classified as a disability in the workplace and says sufferers should be accommodated in the same way as people in wheelchairs.

Rachel has got a number of positions since she left uni in July but each time the boss has given her the boot after less than a month after discovering her plight.

She said: "My main issue is that in each case, they let me go and framed it as being for my own good, but yet they don't even try and change the environment for me.

"I was diagnosed at 10 and have only had anaphylaxis once when I was 12 - I take so many precautions and manage it so well but no one wants to take on the risk.

"There needs to be a change in attitude towards the condition.

Woman too allergic to peanuts to get a job

"I know people with allergies like mine who have been unemployed for years and I'm worried about what's going to happen to me."

The brunette's severe allergy to peanuts means that she could suffer a reaction if someone who has been eating nuts breathes near her - meaning she can only remain in completely nut-free zones.

After finishing her degree, Rachel, who has always wanted to work in the charity sector, bagged a dream job as a full time support worker at an autistic society.

She says she told her new employers about her allergy, which requires her to carry two adrenaline pens at all times, from the start of her application.

One assured her it was fine and promised they could cater to her needs and place her in a nut-free support centre.

Rachel spent three months over the summer completing the necessary training, only to be told at the start of September - when she was ready to start the role - that the nut-free placement wasn't possible after all.

Instead, they offered her a part-time replacement job over 50 miles away from her home.

Woman too allergic to peanuts to get a job
Rachel must carry two life-saving adrenaline pens and have other medication on standby in case she goes into anaphylactic shock

She said: "This was the hardest rejection, I couldn't afford to commute that far and I wanted the full-time job I got in the first place.

"They said it would be a lengthy process having to persuade people not to put nuts in packed lunches and with the nature of the work it could be difficult getting non-verbal autistic people to understand the severity of it.

"It's just so sad, I've always wanted to be able to give back to the community and I fell at the first attempt."

Frustrated at her allergy getting in the way of her dream job, Rachel then applied to a market research role, removing the information about her health from her CV.

She got the job and worked full time in the call centre for a month without telling anyone about her allergy.

Speaking to student newspaper The Tab, Rachel said: "I guessed people were eating peanuts there because I never felt quite right, but eventually someone actually started eating some right next to me and I had to ask them to put them away because it wasn't safe.

"I know I should have told them in the first place but I wanted to see if I could cope.

"My supervisor got wind of it and was very stressed about keeping me safe.

"Because there is such a high turnover of staff, they said it was pretty much impossible to police it and make sure every member of staff knew about it."

Rachel was forced to quit again and got a job as a copy girl for a law firm shortly after in November.

Despite being told they could accommodate her condition, two hours into her first day, HR called Rachel in for a chat and said she needed to leave there and then.

She said: "Again, they'd told me it would be fine and it wasn't."

Rachel added: "It's such a shame and so isolating, I'm claiming Jobseeker's Allowance when all my friends are working or in further education.

"Doctors have advised me to go and work in a small office based environment with a compact team who can all be made aware of my situation - it's quite sad that I have to limit myself so severely because of a food allergy.

"People say: 'Why don't you just work from home?' but I want to be in a dynamic and engaging environment, I have a 2:1 degree and I should be allowed to make the best of myself."

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