Limerick woman was pushed out of job after coming clean with addiction issues

Photo: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash.

49-YEAR-OLD Limerick woman Elaine worked for a company she felt was very forward thinking. Outwardly, she says, the business projected a very inclusive and positive image when it came to race, age, and gender orientation.

However when Elaine (who asked to keep her real name anonymous to protect her identity) told her employers she was beginning non-residential treatment for alcohol addiction, she quickly discovered that inclusivity policy was “a veneer”.

“I was in denial for years about my drinking. It finally came crashing down around me on Christmas Eve last year,” she told the Limerick Post.

“I ran out of alcohol and with just thirty minutes to go to closing time I ran all the way to the off-licence to stock up.

“As I was coming home, I felt sick and horribly sad. I heard carols being sung and I just broke down and cried. I didn’t feel I wanted to live anymore.

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“I drank the wine on Christmas Day and the next day I rang a friend who was already in recovery and she told me about Saoirse in Limerick.”

The support offered by Saoirse to Elaine appealed to her because she had a highly paid job in IT and, while she worked remotely most of the time, she didn’t feel able to go into a residential rehab setting.

“I told my employers what I was doing. I needed time off one day a week to attend the rehab course. I probably could have done it without saying anything, but I wanted to be honest.

“I bought the inclusivity image and all the messages about the company being there for the team members. That was a very big mistake.

Elaine, who works on a performance review-based pay scale, says she received a “fantastic” review and a large pay rise just weeks before she announced she was in recovery.

“But from the day I spoke up, they refused to put me on a lot of projects that I applied for. Then came a systematic campaign of finding fault with everything I did and being told my performance wasn’t good enough.

“This, ironically, was when I had stopped drinking.”

Elaine believes she was consistently targeted and singled out by her employers in an attempt to get her to leave her job.

“They use fine words that hide bad deeds. They wanted rid of me because they just didn’t want to know about an employee who admitted to having an addiction problem – even one they were dealing with.”

Elaine points to the ‘Big Book’ – the Alcoholics Anonymous ‘bible’  -which advises employers to support workers who are making a genuine attempt to conquer addiction.

“That book, written in 1939, had more progressive ideas in it than my employers who do all this virtue signalling about inclusiveness and progressive thinking.

“They wanted rid of me and they got what they wanted. They caused me so much stress that it made me want to just go back to drinking, But I had great support from Saoirse, and from my counsellor, and I realised the best thing I could do was leave.”

Elaine has now begun a new job and says things are going very well for her.

“Recovery is still a challenge, but I’m in such a better position now than when I was drinking and where I was that Christmas Eve when I didn’t feel I could go on living,” she says.

“I haven’t told my new employers that I’m in recovery. I won’t make that mistake twice.”