Curran & Curran Law

A Boutique Employment Law Firm Representing San Diego

Diabetics are protected in the workplace by federal law

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Employment Law

One in ten California residents have diabetes according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes is considered a disability because it compromises the endocrine system and limits major life activities, which means people who suffer from the condition are protected in the workplace by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

This 1990 federal employment law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from firing or refusing to hire a person with a qualifying disability if they would be capable of performing their jobs if reasonable accommodations were made. The law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. Reasonable accommodations that a worker with diabetes could request may include taking regular breaks to check their blood sugar level and using a chair or stool to manage the symptoms of diabetes-related neuropathy.

Workplace discrimination

People who suffer from diabetes often face discrimination or hostility in the workplace. This is often rooted in ignorance about the condition and the nature of hypoglycemia. When diabetic employees are treated unfairly or denied reasonable accommodations by their employers, they can take action by reporting the discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They can also file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor if their employers refuse to allow them to take diabetes-related medical leave. This is because the Family and Medical Leave Act requires covered employers to allow their employees to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave each year if they or one of their immediate family members has a serious medical condition.

Avoiding misunderstandings

Providing reasonable accommodations to workers with diabetes does not usually cause employers much hardship, and diabetic workers are able to perform most jobs when they are made. When employers treat diabetic workers unfairly, it is often because they do not understand diabetes and believe many of the myths surrounding the condition. If these misunderstandings are cleared up, most diabetes-related complaints and lawsuits could be avoided.