Woman with ‘Shy Bladder Syndrome’ Suing Prospective Employer

Health & Fitness

1  Updated at 11:34 am, April 28th, 2013 By: ABC Digital
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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) — A woman with a condition that makes here unable to go to the bathroom in public restrooms without water running is suing a Des Moines hospital that she claims was not accommodating to her condition during a job application.

Jennifer Connor has a condition called paruresis, but it is more commonly known as “shy bladder syndrome.”

There are an estimated 17 million Americans with this condition; a social phobia that makes it impossible for suffers to go to the bathroom in public restrooms. Running water to mask any sounds is often the only way people with shy bladders are able to “go” in public.

Connor was applying to be organ transplant financial coordinator for Iowa Methodist Medical Center. She had already been offered the job on the condition that she pass a drug test, but she was placed in a room with no running water and could not produce a urine sample.

The job offer was rescinded.

Paruresis is covered under the Americans with Disabilities act, and Connor is suing the hospital, saying it did not accommodate her condition.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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  • colmert

    Those of us – men and women – who suffer from shy bladder syndrome (Paruresis) feel intense anxiety when we have to urinate in the presence of other people. And when pressured for time, as Ms. Connor was, our bodies simply shut down. Short of catheterization, a process by which a tube is inserted into the urethra for the purpose of releasing urine, there is no other full-proof way of emptying our bladders.

    As a former shy bladder sufferer of over 40 years, I can well attest to the debilitating and isolating effects this condition has had on my life.

    Paruresis is a legitimate medical condition, a type of social anxiety. It is a myth that if you have to go badly enough, you will eventually go. Just ask the estimated 17 million Americans who experience shy bladder symptoms.

    Many of us cannot produce urine specimens on demand that are a prerequisite to getting hired or staying employed. Still others accommodate to their condition by choosing to either work at home or nearby their places of employment. Those who do seek professional help from physicians and mental health specialists often encounter ignorance, skepticism, or denial.

    What we want and insist upon are alternative testing methods, such as saliva, hair or blood testing – that we are willing to pay for ourselves – legitimized by public and private employers.

    Ms. Connor’s request for such tests was denied; she was considered to have “failed the test”, and her job offer was rescinded.

    Carol Olmert,
    Author, “Bathrooms Make Me Nervous”
    Member of the International Paruresis Association Advisory Board
    International Paruresis Association Advisory Board
    Author, “Bathrooms Make Me Nervous”