Last week Seattle Weekly's Keegan Hamilton posted to Daily Weekly about the case of Mark Rahner, the ex-Seattle Times reporter and current comic book writer who is suing his former employer, claiming he was unfairly fired after he refused to work a night shift.
Rahner filed a lawsuit last week in Western Washington federal court under the Americans With Disabilities Act. According to court documents, he suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, an obscure illness that "affects the body's rational response to stress."
"CFS is episodic in nature and, when active, interferes with most major life activities," Rahner's attorney Caitlin DiMatta writes. "There is no known cure for CFS or known symptom suppressors or elevators."
Rahner got his start with the Times in 1999, and, according to court documents, he was not diagnosed with CFS until 2009. At that point, he was working a standard eight-hour shift that officially began at 9 a.m., but varied depending on the day's news. He claims his illness--defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as "severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions"--caused him to show up an hour or two late on more than one occaison.
According to Rahner, the late arrivals irked his supervisor, metro desk editor Mark Higgins, who "publicly criticized, denigrated, and humiliated [Rahner] about his tardiness, and his medical condition in front of other Seattle Times staff." In spring of 2010, Rahner says he requested a more flexible schedule, akin to that enjoyed by some of his colleagues, but was instead reassigned to a demanding night shift that stretched from 3 to 11 p.m.
Hamilton's post inspired commenter grace to chime in, writing:
I don't know Mark, but I do have CFS. I wouldn't begin to describe the illness in terms of being "tired". I would call it permanent exhaustion. There are other health complications associated with it, as well. Aside from whatever Mark's personality quirks may be, this is a seriously devastating illness that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I hope that Mark seeks medical treatment from practitioners who are educated about the disease. I also hope that he might consider helping educate the public about the illness, should he find the stamina to do so. "Chronic fatigue syndrome" is a term that doesn't begin to describe the effects of the illness.