Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes and job discrimination

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. September 14, 2010

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 you experienced job discrimination because of diabetes?
  • Is there any job an individual with diabetes shouldn't do?

Have a good week!

Nancy

Sep. 14, 2010