Employee With Disabilities Praises Her Supportive Employer ... TJ Maxx
LEBANON, OH -- Thirty-three-year-old Lauren Robertson has received services from the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities (WCBDD) since 2008. For the past two years, Lauren has lived on her own in a beautiful condo in Mason where she enjoys cooking, watching Law & Order and painting in her sunroom. She has also been employed with TJ Maxx since 2017, where she will be celebrating her six-year anniversary this month.
Lauren takes great pride in her independence, as well as sustaining her employment with TJ Maxx, an employer she attributes to building her confidence. “They show you how to do stuff and figure out a way for you to do it easier,” Lauren shared.
As she relaxed on her sunroom porch, Lauren proudly listed her work responsibilities as a Backroom Associate for the South Lebanon TJ Maxx. Lauren’s responsibilities include unboxing and organizing merchandise and clothing, including purses and shoes. Additionally, Lauren is responsible for placing sensors on items to prevent theft, and covering employee breaks in the fitting rooms.
“The TJ Maxx staff is very supportive and check on you throughout the day,” Lauren added.
Lauren secured her employment with TJ Maxx by utilizing Job Development services through WCBDD, a service funded partly by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD). Job Development is a beneficial service that pairs a job seeker with an Employment Developer, who will then assist the job seeker in obtaining employment.
The Employment Developer will meet with the job seeker on a regular basis not only to search and apply for jobs, but also to prepare for job interviews. Additionally, the Employment Developer can serve as an advocate to the job seeker when discussing reasonable accommodations with employers.
It was because of this service that TJ Maxx became aware of how best to support Lauren in the event she were to have a seizure on the job. “The managers are really understanding because they know I have health problems,” Lauren explained. “They genuinely care and treat people with respect.”
TJ Maxx Store Manager, Glen Blessing has worked with Lauren for the past year and has taken notice of the impact Lauren has on the TJ Maxx team.
“Lauren is always positive! Her positive attitude impacts the rest of the people she works with. That adds so much value,” expressed Blessing, adding, “I can always tell she’s proud and happy to be working here each day she comes in. She’s always willing to be a contributor to whatever we are trying to do, she’s eager to learn new things, and she is a great example of her commitment to her work schedule. She has a great commitment to her job.”
When asked how she would advise businesses in working with employees with disabilities, Lauren suggested that businesses should first identify the employee’s abilities, then provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to complete their task. Lastly, Lauren recommended the employer pair a co-worker with the employee to serve as a mentor, which can build their confidence.
Blessing advised that employers should... “be willing to challenge people to find out what their limitations are. Never put anyone in a box. I’ve learned that when you put limitations on people before you really know them, you actually discover they can do more than you thought they were capable of doing.”
Today, Lauren continues to be grateful to TJ Maxx for their support and hopes to learn new jobs so that they may depend on her even more in the future. In the meantime, Lauren will continue to grow her list of recipes in her hand-made recipe book and further develop her professional growth.
Last July, Lauren attended her first Careers with Peers Council, a professional networking group of individuals with disabilities served by WCBDD. The group met at Two Cities Pizza and discussed the importance of networking, building professional relationships, and how best to communicate with supervisors — a skill that Lauren now appears to have down pat.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and is a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions and accomplishments of workers with disabilities, and highlight the importance and benefits of inclusive workplaces.
WCBDD provides services and support to over 2,400 individuals with disabilities and their families, through Early Intervention, Community Resources, Employment Services, Social, Recreational, Residential, Service Coordination, and other programs.
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