People With Diabetes Protected From Discrimination

President Obama

| Jun 20, 2011

People with diabetes can breath a sigh of relief: New rules now protect them from workplace discrimination. The Obama administration has widened the definition of disability to include cancer, epilepsy, and diabetes, among other conditions.

The government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was told to revamp its rules after Congress voted to broaden federal disability law in 2008. It did so last month.

While you might expect businesses to take issue with such a change, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomed the rules. (The chamber has three million companies across the country as members.)

"These issues can be exceedingly difficult," said Randel Johnson, a senior vice president at the chamber, in a statement to Bloomberg News Service. "The commission gave substantive consideration to our comments and those of other stakeholders."

What's changed? It's all about what conditions are considered "substantially limiting."

Before the revision, health issues had to restrict huge chunks of your day-to-day life---sleeping, let's say, or basic concentration. That led to a pretty restrictive definition of disability. After all, people whose diabetes is controlled are able to sleep through the night and to concentrate. That doesn't mean, however, that they're without real and pressing medical needs.

Now, though, "substantially limiting" conditions include not only diabetes and epilepsy, but also obsessive-compulsive disorder, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the EEOC said. In all of these cases, the diseases pose major challenges---and may require workplace accommodation---but aren't always obvious to onlookers.

The government defines disabilities so it can require businesses to make "reasonable accommodations" for those with disabilities. Need a break to check your blood sugar? Need some time for an insulin injection? The law now offers you some protection.

Businesses that employ more than 15 people have to follow the rules, which were published last month in the Federal Register.

Do workers need the laws? Apparently so---more than 25,000 people claimed workplace discrimination because of disabilities last year.

Bloomberg News

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Equal Employment (EEOC), HIV, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder , Workplace Discrimination

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Posted by Anonymous on 21 June 2011

A diabetic must make sure he or she works for a company with more than 15 employees to be covered by the new rules, otherwise the new rules are worthless.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 June 2011

My 2 questions are as follows:
1. Does this mean that a person with Type 1 Diabetes can now check the box revealing that they are disabled or a person with disability when completing a job application?
2. Will this stop insurance companies from denying coverage to diabetics stating that it is a pre-existing disease?
If anyone can answer those questions that would be great! Thank you in advance.

Posted by shosty on 23 June 2011

I remember when type 1 was a "disability," then when it wasn't, and not it is again. I thought the issue was whether or not the condition could be reversed by a medication. Obviously, insulin does not cure type 1, and there are problems with the side effects that can be as dangerous as the disease. But apparently the ability to medicate is not the issue, it is the extent of the limitations on life. Is that right?

Posted by Anonymous on 24 June 2011

Diabetics are all ready denied insurance coverage. I can't get insurance coverage due to diabetes, even though it is well controlled and I am extremely healthy otherwise.

Posted by rstryker on 24 June 2011

Does this mean that persons who show reasonable control w/o hypoglycemia can drive a truck even though they are on insulin?

Posted by angivan on 24 June 2011

I have the same question about whether a Type 1 can claim disability status. I have emailed JDRF about this and will post their answer here if I receive one.

Posted by Anonymous on 25 June 2011

I want to thank the President for passing the bill! I am a diabetic & I have many health issues. I wish the President would pass a bill for companies not to look only your income but what bills you have each month too. I been asking for help for a long time but we get turn down because our income is to high. But we have a house payment, car payment & diabetic medication to take that cost alot each month. Now the bank want to foreclose on our home because we fell behind because I had to pay the hospital bill or they were sueing me for payment or garnish my paycheck. I wish the President pass the bill that the bank can't foreclose on your home if you have diabetic and others health problems. Thanks

Posted by sweet one on 25 June 2011

It is about time! I work in the healthcare field and have been denied a promotion because "we can't have you passing out during a presentation" and transferred to a different dept. when my boss discovered I was diabetic. (two different jobs!) The problem will always be that you can't fight back unless the discrimination can be proven. Some employers are pretty adept at discriminating "under cover". Still hiding my diabetes for now . . .

Posted by Anonymous on 26 June 2011

I have not and will not EVER consider my diabetes to be a disability. I am a Union construction worker, in pretty good control (last A1C was 6.1), and I have been a Type 1 since 1983. I ALWAYS make it a point to discuss with my employer my medical needs and to explain that I may have to do periodic testing, and if I have a hypoglycemic event, I will need to get something to correct the situation and take a short break as well, until my b/s is back to normal. I am also waiting for a Federal Diabetes Exemption Waiver through the FMCSA, so that I will be able to obtain a CDL, to make myself more marketable for employment.

Posted by Anonymous on 16 December 2012

Hi, I just want to say that I am glad that there is more awareness of diabetes. I have had type I diabetes for 40 years, and I was discriminated against in the workplace for many years. i finally found a job where I am not discriminated against because of my diabetes. I explain that I have to take a lunch break and break at certain times to test and treat my condition. I admire people who are forthright about diabetes because although it is hard to be open about it, it is the only way people will become educated.

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