Diabetes at Work

 

There are several laws in place which protect teens and adults with Type 1 Diabetes who are working. Some of these laws include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act: is applicable to private employers, labor unions, and employment agencies of at least 15 employees as well as state and local government.

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which protects those working for the executive branch or those who receive federal money.

  • Congressional Accountability Act protects those working for Congress and most of the legislative branch agencies.

Some states have more specifically outlined laws to protect those from discrimination while in the workplace, and states have their own agencies who enforce these laws. That being said, regardless of where you are located, if you are fired because of your diabetes, you have the right to file a charge of discrimination through either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state fair employment agency. Those are the laws in place to protect you from discrimination at work. There are however other things that an employer can and cannot do because of diabetes. They cannot deny you the job or a promotion because of your diabetes, that is unless you are posing a “direct threat.” An employer must provide you with the accommodations necessary for you to perform the basic duties of your job.

When going through an interview process for a job, there is nothing legal that states you must tell the employer about your diabetes, likewise, employers are not allowed to ask you about any medical conditions before providing you a job. In the end it is up to you whether or not to tell your employer about your diabetes whether in the interview process, or once you get hired. That being said, not telling the employer about your diabetes would make it difficult to prove discrimination if ever something were to happen in the future.

 

Medical leave for those with Type 1 Diabetes, and even for those without can be a necessity. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires 12 weeks of leave a year for the employees condition, or for the condition of an immediate family member. FMLA requires that private employers which contain more than 50 employees and most government employers follow this act regarding medical leave. The 12 weeks may be broken down into several different smaller time periods which can be used for doctors appointments, short term problems, and long term problems. In some situations, an employer can mandate medical examinations. Typically in this situation, an exam would be required in the case of returning from an extended time off on medical leave, when an issue has occurred on the job, and these situations are generally limited to physicals and requests for reasonable accommodations.