One of the most interesting sessions I went to at the Children with Diabetes conference was called “The Challenge of Employment Discrimination” and was hosted by John Griffin. I will admit that I missed the first ten or so few minutes of his talk because I was picking up swag in the exhibit hall, but the parts I caught – very interesting!
I’ll admit that I approach the ADA with some skepticism – mostly considering their meal planning advice for diabetics. Due to the nature of my job, employer discrimination is something I am very interested in so I was curious to hear what the session was going to cover.
The presenter mostly focused on two court cases that he helped to litigate regarding employment discrimination. It is a delicate balance of choosing not to disclose, defining a diability (the limiting of life activities) and employment discrimination.
In one of the cases, the applicant faced the irony of being told that he did not have a disability because his control was so good, but that he could not be hired because he was a direct threat because of his diabetes.
Whether or not diabetes is a disability is something I have noticed to be hotly contested around the online community. Understanding that the definition of a disability is by law an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activites (defined here) and that the law even further mentions the endocrine system as one that may be affected, I do not see how diabetes cannot be considered a disability
Having diabetes affects the way I eat and my methods of self-care. That is a disability. Do I want to have a disability – absolutely not. But I am glad that the law (and the American Diabetes Association) is there to protect me if I need it. My car has air bags. I hate them; they scare me and I wish they weren’t there. But I am glad they will be there to protect me if I need it.
As Griffin stated in his closing remarks of the session, “Not everyone with diabetes needs an accommodation, but where there is a rule in place there must be an accommodation to provide a safe environment.”
At the end of the session, I was able to pick up a brochure entitled, “Your Job and Your Rights: Fighting Discrimination Based on Diabetes in the Workplace,” which does a great job of outlining the important facts about employment discrimination. It appears that you can order more from either 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-ADA-ORDER.
Small aside: I was worried about disclosing my diabetes when applying for my current job. It was going to be a multi-day interview involving several meals so there was really no practical way to hide it. When I pulled out my pump to bolus during one of the meals, my (future) boss looks over and says, “MiniMed?” I guess it makes disclosure a bit easier when your potential employer is a parent of a diabetic.
Have you faced employment discrimination? What did you do?