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As Conjoined Twins Enter the World of Work, Some New Legal Definitions May Be Needed

Posted Aug 27, 2012 11:48 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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If Abby and Brittany Hensel should ever litigate a wage dispute with their employer, a judge or jury is going to have to give the matter some serious thought.

The two recent college graduates, now 22, are looking for work together. In fact, they're looking for a job at the same workplace, because they're not only twins but conjoined. The young women share essentially one body from the waist down, but are two individuals with distinct personalities, the New York Daily News reports.

That can raise some unique issues, although the twins are already skilled compromisers due to their need to work together on tasks ranging from walking and driving a car to studying for separate degrees and taking tests as individuals.

The executive director of the Mayer Lutheran High School in Mayer, Minn., handed each girl her own diploma when the two graduated. But “my bigger question is, now that they’re out of college and in the real world, how is the legal, human resource world going to take care of them? How’s the IRS going to treat them?" says Joel Landskroener. He says a high school guidance counselor who called those in charge of the ACT test to establish protocols as the two girls were nearing college age was once hung up on, because the person at the other end thought the call was a prank.

Some answers to such questions may become clear as a new TLC reality series, Abby & Brittany, premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. It follows the twins as they graduate from college and look for work.

Meanwhile, the twins seem to have the situation pretty much figured out.

Both education majors, they are hoping to land a teaching job, and “obviously, right away we understand that we’re going to get one salary because we’re doing the job of one person,” Abby Hensel says on the show. However, she suggests that some negotiation might be appropriate down the road as the two—who have two degrees and two perspectives—gain experience.

“One can be teaching, and one can be monitoring and answering questions, so in that sense, we can do more than one person," Brittany Hensel adds.

Additional coverage:

ABC News: "Conjoined Twins Abby and Brittany Hensel: 'Normal—Whatever That Is'"

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