My job offer was withdrawn ‘because I have seizures’ but I've proved everyone wrong - Tracy's story

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Three days prior to starting a new job, Tracy was told she did not pass their security clearance because she 'had seizures'.

A Liverpool woman says that just three days before she was due to start a new job she had the offer withdrawn because she 'had seizures'. Tracy had disclosed her epilepsy during the interview but was told she did not pass their security clearance.

Now 27, she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 13 and initially struggled with extremely severe seizures. After having a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted in 2017, her seizures dramatically reduced and she says the procedure was the 'best decision' she’s ever made.

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Tracy, who wishes to remain anonymous, later applied for a job in law whilst studying for her degree. She said she disclosed her epilepsy during the interview stage and was told, 'this would be okay' and was offered a position. However, she was left 'devastated' after the offer was suddenly withdrawn.

"I left my job at the time to move to this new one," she explained. "But three days prior to starting the new position, I was told I did not pass their security clearance. I was devastated. I was told later that it was not because I had epilepsy, it was because I had seizures. This, in my eyes, is the same.”

Tracy believes 'more needs to be done' to educate employers and colleagues who she says 'only see one kind of seizure'.

She added: "There are so many different types of seizure out there, and each one is different. When I was first diagnosed, I never even knew what the condition was and had never heard of it. It wasn’t until I educated myself that I discovered how broad of a subject of epilepsy is.”

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Tracy has since graduated with a law degree and now has a successful job in the field at one of the top firms in the UK, however, a staggering 60% of people with epilepsy say they have experienced unequal treatment or discrimination at work because of their condition.

New analysis by Epilepsy Action also reveals that over two in five employers admit they would be inclined not to hire someone with epilepsy to save their company potential challenges, despite knowing they shouldn’t.

As part of the report, Epilepsy Action spoke to employees across the country to find out how inclusive they think their companies are, as well as their attitudes towards working with someone with epilepsy. 36% of those surveyed confessed they would feel uncomfortable about working with someone with epilepsy 'in case they had a seizure'.

The charity is now asking people to sign its petition, demanding the introduction of minimum fines for disability discrimination.

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Rebekah Smith, Deputy Chief Executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “In 2023, it’s simply unacceptable for so many people with epilepsy to still face unequal treatment and discrimination at work. What’s even more concerning, is seeing how widespread the misunderstanding of the condition seems to be amongst managers and employers, the very people who have the power to hire and dictate company culture.

“We want more people with epilepsy who can work to get the opportunities they deserve, get the jobs they want, and succeed in their careers. To do this, we need attitudes to change now.

“First of all, educate yourself about epilepsy, take the steps to become an ally for people with the condition in the workplace, whether you’re a colleague or a manager. Secondly, help us send a clear message to the government: when this doesn’t happen, we need stricter measures."

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