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Should you tell your new boss you have diabetes? Job discrimination against people with diabetes has dropped over the years, but occasionally I'll hear stories from patients about discrimination at the workplace. The discrimination is generally related to an uninformed or misinformed supervisor or co-workers about diabetes.
I've heard stories from individuals with diabetes who were told by the boss that they couldn't test their blood glucose in front of other employees because it bothered the other employees. Others weren't given proper facilities or time to do the blood glucose testing.
The law currently states you can only be denied employment if you're unable to perform the specific duties of the job, even if the employer makes reasonable accommodations to help you perform your job. The law only covers individuals who work for companies that employ more than 15 people.
It's illegal for an employer to ask a prospective employee about their health unless they ask all employees interviewed the same question. If your employer doesn't ask about your health, you aren't obligated to tell. If your employer does ask you if you have diabetes and you don't tell them, you could lose some legal protections against job discrimination.
Most people I talk to, as a diabetes educator, seem to think it's better to tell your boss you have diabetes rather than hiding the fact and then having others try to guess why you're making extra trips to the bathroom, eating snacks, or even acting a little strange with a low blood glucose.
If you share the fact you have diabetes with others, you may be surprised at how supportive they can be and you can even take the opportunity to teach them something about diabetes and alleviate a lot of the misunderstandings and misconceptions about diabetes.
Questions for the week:
Have a good week!
Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N.
Peggy Moreland, R.N.
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I've had a certain job for over 20 years and have become almost borderline diabetic and have frequent blood sugar issues, but don't need insulin, yet. However, I do need to eat a small stack about every two hours. I travel around to different locations and work at a front counter where I can't eat in the job or keep food nearby. So, usually, I take a quick break when my blood sugar starts getting low to eat an aplple or quick snack. Or, I ask if I can take a break every two hours. However one supervisor refuses for me to take a break when I need it and claims that I have to "deal with this issue". There is no real reason why I can't leave the desk to take a break about every two hours (such as for safety reasons, etc) except that she wants to control everyone. She also says I can't keep food nearby or get a quick bite when I need it.
Recently, I was told that I was not being flexible in regards to breaks and that I could be terminated because of this issue. I wonder if there's something I could do because I'm not full-blown diabetic, yet. I am trying not to get to that point.
i am 44 years old now..and have had this type 1 for over 23 years. i changed jobs after 13 years as a picture framer because of no health insurance. and made the worst mistake of my life just because i needed health insurance..i GOT A JOB for the city of fort walton beach. yes, i had health insurance but the people where some of the worst one can ever meet.. regarding the understanding and the difficulty of having type 1. i was told i was HIGH MANTNANCE. and Dangerous . 4 and a half years i worked with these kind of people. the biggest problem was the people..and still is. the way people, not just diabetics but all others are treated by the forman & office staff is Criminal.
I have experienced job descrimination several times. I feel i have the right to work just like any normal person. I am thinking of taking my complaints to someone who can take action on the employers.
I am aware of one job that a person taking insulin can't qualify for - truck driver. As I understand it, you can't get a CDL (commercial driver's license) if you take insulin. Some of my clients have been faced with this complication when trying to decide whether to start insulin therapy.
Correction in my previous note should read the employer has become smarter and I feel it will be impossilbe for me to retain a job anymore.
The statistics may show discrimination against diabetes has gone down only because they employer has become smarter. I say this because they will not say it's a problem from your disease but rather you are not qualified because then they have the upper hand and you can not argue the fact that you are as they will say you need to preform at same level as every one else even though that is not possible when your blood sugars fluctuate every day and minute. I am so frustrated with employers now. When I first started working I worked on one job for 17 years and had the same disease as now but now they will not accomodate for your condition and after living with a diseas like diabetes for almost 48 years I feel it will be impossible for my to retain a job anymore. As in the past 10 years I have gone through about 17 jobs no one in their right mind would want to do that but how do I pay my bills other wise.? I don't think anyone can say I am not trying to be employed after that many jobs. I think we need to put more pressure on the emplyers and make them understand this is still discrimination even though they try to cover it by saying you are not qualified for the job.
YES...in the past 31 years with diabetes I have come across discrimination in the job force. I ask the qualifications needed, then remind them that I have all that and more in front of them. It is hard. It is better to be honest right away and tell them yourself, before some one else finds out. That is a perfect opportunity to educate about the disease, it's effect on you and that you have the capability to take care of things and rarely need any assistance from others. Keep good records if things are going on. Name names, dates, what happened, your response to it. Documentation is vital. Jobs not to hold: years ago I would have said yes, but now with the insulin pump, glucose monitoring at home and everything else we have in our personal arsenols there isn't really much that we can not do within reason. Safety first!
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