Someone checking their blood sugar

Diabetes Discrimination in the Workplace

More than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, according to the CDC. When properly treated, this illness has virtually no impact on an individual’s ability to do a particular job; nonetheless, they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure their workplace rights are protected. Under these two statutes, it is illegal for companies to layoff, fire, promote, or show any form of bias towards an employee diagnosed with diabetes. Here are three common areas where people suffering from diabetes may be discriminated against.

Meal and Rest Breaks

Under state and federal laws, employers are required to give their employees meal and rest breaks after working a certain amount of hours. However, as any person with diabetes can attest to, managing blood sugar levels is never convenient and must be managed at the first signs of fatigue. Regardless of when your last break was, employers must be reasonable with accommodations. Speak with your management team about your needs and work together to come up with tailored solutions.

Work Schedule

When it comes to managing diabetes, consistency is key. Rotating or split shift schedules can make it difficult for some individuals to manage their diabetes, but it should not be the deciding factor in their employment. “Any person with diabetes, whether insulin treated or non–insulin-treated, should be eligible for any employment for which he or she is otherwise qualified,” according to the American Diabetes Association. Employees should take an active role in addressing any scheduling concerns with their manager before this becomes a health and safety issue. If consistent scheduling is plausible but continues to be denied, a diabetic may want to contact an employment attorney.

Doctor Appointments

No matter what a worker’s medical circumstance maybe, most employees are covered under The Family Medical Leave Act. For diabetics, this may include a few hours away from work for a scheduled doctor’s appointment to an extended leave of absence for a more serious complication. A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period, according to the FMLA.

While not every person with diabetes will be qualified for every available position, most reasonable accommodations can be made at no cost to the employer. For more information on your rights in the workplace, contact us or follow us on Facebook.