By Dawn Cranfield
Hospital Sued for Discrimination over ‘Shy Bladder’
Jennifer Conner, a 2012 graduate of Des Moines University, is suing Iowa Methodist Medical Center for discriminatory behavior for withdrawing their job offer when she failed to complete a required drug test. Conner who suffers from paruresis, or ‘shy bladder’, was unable to give a urine sample as required prior to a full job offer.
Initially, Conner applied for a position as an organ transplant financial coordinator with the hospital and was offered the position, pending the necessary drug screenings.
Conner, who has a master’s degree in health care administration, had difficulty providing the sample due to her condition.
Paruresis is a social anxiety condition that causing people to have difficulty urinating in the presence of others or in public facilities. Additionally, they may have a challenge if they are under the duress of a time constraint or when being observed by others, or when somebody may be close by or might hear them.
According to Paruresis.org, studies have shown that approximately 7% of the public, or 21 million people, suffer from the social anxiety disorder. If one is diagnosed with paruresis as a social anxiety disorder (SAD), it is determined that medical causes have been ruled out.
Like many others, Conner has found coping mechanisms to help her manage her disorder, she runs water or flushes a toilet to mask the sound of her urination. However, when she was attempting to fill the sample cup as requested on the day of the drug test, she was not provided the proper accommodations.
Additionally, according to Conner, nurses continually knocked on the door requesting the sample, increasing her anxiety and preventing her from completing the test. Conner, who had been diagnosed with the anxiety condition as a teenager, began to cry and failed to fill the sample.
Still, Conner wanted to submit a drug test, so she requested substitute methods for providing one; she asked for a catheter extraction of urine, or a blood based drug test. Both options were refused by the hospital. According to her lawsuit, she was giving until the end of the day to provide a urine sample or it would be counted as a failed test.
Tom Foley, Conner’s attorney, said shy bladder syndrome falls under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, Conner is not requesting the court to issue an order preventing Iowa Methodist Medical Center from similarly discriminating against others with disabilities.
Conner’s lawsuit is asking for an unspecified amount of damages including lost wages, attorney’s fees, emotional distress, benefits, and pain and suffering.
The hospital has not commented on the incident.