A job application can be very telling. Not only do we disclose more information about ourselves than we probably want to, but we also have to acknowledge if we have a disability. If you live with diabetes and have struggled with checking the ‘Yes’ box, you’re probably not alone. Many people with diabetes may not feel they have a disability. They may not look or feel ‘disabled.’ However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), diabetes is a disability, and this article will help you understand why.
What is a Disability?
In 1990, Congress passed the ADA, which protects employees from being discriminated against because of their disability. That means an employer cannot discriminate against a qualified individual based on their disability. That particular disability should not be a reason for an individual to be fired. It should not keep them any advancement in the workplace or from getting equal pay. Job benefits cannot be denied to a disabled employee, nor should tests be created that screen out otherwise qualified but disabled individuals.
In 2008, changes were made to the ADA that emphasized that diabetes would always be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How Does Diabetes Qualify as a Disability?
Essentially one or more major life activities must be substantially restricted for a condition to qualify as a disability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains how a physical impairment as any disease or condition, cosmetic modification, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as those related to neurological, musculoskeletal, heart, digestive, urinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine. The endocrine system is affected by diabetes, making it a physically handicapping condition.
To be considered substantial, an impairment must make a significant life activity more complex, more painful, or more time-consuming than it would be for the average individual. It is also substantial if it prevents the disabled person from enjoying that significant life activity. Again, diabetes falls within the specifications of that. If you are an employee with diabetes, you have to take the time, whether it’s allowed or not, to test your blood sugar levels, and at times inject yourself with insulin. You also have to be very careful about what you eat and drink. Because of low blood sugar, you may also be times that you have to stop what you’re doing at work, whether it’s frowned upon or not, to tend to your diabetes..
I Have Diabetes. Does That Mean I Have a Disability?
Federal law recognizes that diabetes can be a disability and an invisible disability and can exist even if the person has good health and is well managed.
Millions of people live their lives to their fullest with diabetes every day. You don’t have to live with restrictions and live a beautiful and meaningful life. A person with diabetes can generally do whatever they want as long as they effectively manage their condition.
Acknowledging your disability is not saying you’re not capable of performing your duties or need assistance on your job. It’s not even saying that you have to depend on anyone to do your job. It tells that there may be specific accommodations
What Are Reasonable Accommodations for Diabetics?
Following the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations to enable disabled employees to perform their jobs. Diabetes is protected as a disability under the ADA, and employers are obliged to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with diabetes.
What Accommodations Do Diabetics Need to Have on The Job?
Accommodations enable qualified, disabled employees to perform their essential job duties. These accommodations could be applied during the application process, the work environment, job requirements, or employee benefits. The goal of reasonable accommodations is to provide an environment where people with disabilities can compete on equal footing with people without disabilities. Diabetes and other conditions are not required to be disclosed by applicants unless they need reasonable accommodations during the application process.
As stated earlier, diabetes may be an invisible disability, so to most people, there may not seem like a need for reasonable accommodations. Granted, the concessions will not be drastic, but some are still room. People with diabetes need to monitor and manage their blood sugar levels, even while on the job. Some reasonable accommodations would mean being able to take those breaks when needed.
Reasonable accommodations could mean:
● Allow more breaks for people with diabetes than people without disabilities.
● Allow people with diabetes access to the privacy they need to test their blood sugar and inject insulin. People with diabetes may need access to certain foods or drinks in the event of a drop in blood sugar. Depending on the culture of the work environment, this could mean allowing the person with diabetes a little more flexibility with breaks, snacks, and privacy than other employees.
● Allow the employee with diabetes to be seated if neuropathy is present. Not all jobs are desk jobs, which could be a big deal on a career that has you standing all day.
However, these accommodations shouldn’t be an issue for other employees or the employer, nor should there be a reason for complaints because, according to the ADA, reasonable accommodations need to be made for the employee with diabetes.
Reasonable accommodations aren’t only for the work environment. The ADA laws can apply in the workplace, school, public places, and interactions with law enforcement. We’ve talked about how it can use on the job. Now let’s look at the other areas.
Reasonable Accommodations In Other Places for Diabetics
Federal protections are in place for people with diabetes. In the U.S., diabetes is considered a disability. These protections ensure that people with diabetes are not discriminated against. It also provides them access to the accommodations they need to manage their condition, regardless of where they are continual.
Diabetes can affect anyone. It is common for youth also to be diagnosed with diabetes. When kids are at school, they need accommodations to ensure their condition is managed correctly. Diabetes requires constant management throughout the day. For diabetic children, this includes time spent at the school, in daycare, on field trips, in camp, and other school or day-care-related activities. To ensure children with diabetes can participate in school life the same as any other child, the ADA requires schools to:
● Ensure someone is adequately trained to be available to administer insulin and glucagon, as well as monitor blood glucose levels
● Have all school activities ( this includes field trips and extracurricular activities) should be supervised by a member of your staff with diabetes experience
● Allow capable students to self-manage their diabetes any time they need to, regardless of the place.
By those same rights, schools cannot:
● Care for a diabetic student by requiring family members to attend school
● Provide diabetes students with appropriate care by transferring them to another school
● Stop diabetic students from attending any activity sponsored by the school, including field trips and sporting events
Even when a person with diabetes is in jail or prison, they have rights and protections to keep them healthy and safe. It’s up to the place of the law to ensure that disabled persons can manage their diabetes. That means having adequate access to medical care and treatment as needed. That could include having access to blood sugar monitoring, insulin, appropriate wound care, and a specialist as required.
People with diabetes are not generally discriminated against in public places. Due to federal laws, a person with diabetes cannot be excluded from public places because of their condition or be denied access to supplies for care. In fact, in general settings, diabetics may be entitled to:
● Pass through airport and courthouse security checkpoints with diabetes care supplies such as syringes and insulin
● Take a moment to consume a snack, examine your blood sugar, or take your medicine
● Assistance for children with diabetes in camps, daycare, or other recreational programs.
Diabetes is a severe medical condition. It is possible to manage diabetes, even though it cannot be cured. People with diabetes can control their diabetes by eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy body weight, and exercising regularly. However, some people with diabetes must take oral medication and administer insulin injections to manage their diabetes.
Diabetes is the most active endocrine disease in the United States., with nearly two million new cases diagnosed each year. Seeing the increasing number of patients and the seriousness of the condition, Congress has ensured a way for people with diabetes to manage this condition and have access to their needs, regardless of where they are.
If you are a person with diabetes, know the rights and protections you have in the workplace, at schools, in public places, and with law enforcement.