Disability Law Amendment May Benefit People with Diabetes

In a move that the American Diabetes Association is calling "a historic victory," President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act into law on September 25. This amendment to the original 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is meant to restore its broad protection of people from unfair treatment because of their disabilities—which can include diabetes.


Since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, decisions made by the Supreme Court have narrowed its reach, declaring people with partial physical disabilities or conditions that can be treated with drugs or medical devices to be beyond the antidiscrimination protection of the act. But this new amendment will restore protection to people who use medicine, prosthetics, or technological devices to help control their conditions. It will also protect workers whose employers discriminate against them because they believe that the worker has a disability, regardless of whether the worker is actually disabled.

In a statement, the American Diabetes Association’s Chair of the Board, R. Stewart Perry, said, “This is a historic victory for Americans with chronic illnesses like diabetes, who will once again be covered by this law, and is a triumph for all individuals with disabilities who want to work and will now be able to fulfill their potential.” You can read the American Diabetes Association’s full press release here.

Have you ever faced discrimination because of your diabetes? Do you consider your diabetes to be a disability? Share your thoughts on these issues with a comment below.

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  • SSP

    back in the olden days (1985), freshly graduated from collegeg, I had a job with MUSE airlines all but sewn up…and then, I stupidly asked about health insurance and told them why it was a concern – it was costing my folks $1500 a quarter to cover me and I was about to no longer be a dependent. I thought it was a fair question….ahh youth…ignorance…trusting sould. My done deal very quickly became nebulous and unconfirmed and soon disappeared, as did Muse airlines a few years later, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Ever since, employers aren’t told until the offer is signed AND sealed!

    In the intervening 23 years, I have never called in too sick from my diabetes to work. I know there are lot of us out there who DO, however…I have accepted the responsibility this disease lays on me, and appreciate the coverage ADA affords me, and just can’t stand to hear about people who abuse the protections by calling in sick when their blood sugar is a little out of whack!

  • Momofjoy

    A comment regarding this blog topic as well as your poll. I do not consider diabetes a disability. Unfortunately a lot of my friends and family and co-workers do. That seems to be where my frustration tends to lie.

    No matter how I try to get the point accross to them they still treat me like I have a disability and I hate it.

  • Airborne mom

    I have not encountered discrimination regarding my diabetes. However, I have been discriminated regarding my asthma. I worked for Vocational Rehabilitation (yes, the agency who helps people with mental and/or physical disabilities return to work) My co-workers were offended when I had to request “reasonable accommodations” as my asthma is affected severely when there is a lot of strong fragrances used in laundry soap, dryer sheets, personal hygiene products, cleaners, smoke (cigarettes and forest fires), candles and the list goes on. They even went so far as to wear strong scents to see if they could cause me to have an episode. I have since left the position. I really should have stayed long enough to document and sue the agency, but I am not that type of person. I now have a position that turned out to be the best move I have ever made. But it still just amazes me that there are professionals who, probably until if directly affects them, will feel like that their rights are being infringed upon. I guess all is not equal.

  • RJW

    Congratulations if you never had to call in sick due to diabetes, you must have a very controllable form of the disease and no complications. I feel lousy many mornings because of blood sugar spikes or whatever, and / or from the various medicines I have to take and it definately is disabling to me. I go to work most of the time but it’s a struggle when you have an aggressive form of type II. Consider yourself fortunate.

  • dwparker

    As someone that hasnt called in sick because of high blood sugar I think that SSP should step back and look at the great job he or she has. Many of us are not as lucky. I have a 2 hour commute. I get to work and cant start work for 1 hour because this is the way the place is. then I have to leave later at the height of rush hour to get home. I am away from my home for 15 hours a day. my stress raises my blood sugar and I have proof of this. Now with this new law I may be able to get a better working hours. so dont think that people call in just because they are high remember stress too. and Diabetes is a disability. Bus drivers, pilots and truck drivers lose their jobs because of it.

  • rcmodelr

    Now all I need is to find a lawyer willing to take the case!!!

    I got my job BACK… But ONLY after filing a grievance with the Union, then filing charges with EEOC.

    PP removed me from job I had done for 3 years on grounds of “Because you have Diabetes and use Insulin, you can’t get a DOT Medical Certificate. Therefore, although DOT Medical Certificate is NOT REQUIRED for the job you do, you should have NEVER been offered ANY job involving driving any company vehicles or operating any company-owned power equipment such-as forklifts or pallet jacks.”

    After EEOC looked into it, PP agreed at least 4 times, at least 2 times IN WRITING to restore vacation time I was forced to use to keep an income while prevented from doing my job. Each time, they FAILED to KEEP THEIR PROMISE.

    EEOC found justified grounds, but gave up and issued me with the Notice of Right To Sue paperwork giving me 90-days to take action.

    I tried finding attorneys to take the case, and the TWO I was actually able to get any response from told me as of Sept. 9, that “Because of actions by the courts in recent years, we won’t even TRY handling a Discrimination case concerning Diabetes and NOT some blatantly obvious disability.”

    I still have roughly 55 days to take action… I NEED to find somebody willing to handle case now that the Amendment was signed into law.

  • donna529

    I applied for a large company once. I went thru all the testing, interviews. the last step for employment was a drug test. I don’t use any illegal drugs and do not drink alcohol. After the test I never heard from the company again. I am positive they tested me diabetes and that is why I “failed” the test.

  • Babbs227

    I don’t know if I have actually been discriminated against because of my diabetes, but I know it has affected my ability to function. I also have thyroid disease which may compound things even further. But I have lost a lot of feeling in my fingers and feet. The finger problem makes typing more difficult. I have trouble concentrating and I do things a lot slower than I used to. Because of that I have lost 3 jobs since the end of December. Diabetes has affected my vision and although it is not a constant thing, it makes things a lot more difficult at times. It’s much more difficult for me to learn things. I have an awful time remembering things too. That may be more age related than anything. But I’m only 58 years old. I’ve known I have diabetes for a little over 3 years and my life has become increasingly difficult. The frustrating part of it all is I went on Lantus right away along with oral medication and according to regular blood work my sugar is well controlled. Yet things just keep getting worse for me. If that is not the case for you, consider yourself extremely lucky. I’m miserable. I seriously doubt this bill will help me.

  • newauthor

    My friend an I both have Diabetes. Mine isn’t very bad at all, but my friend is incapasitated by neuropathic pain in her legs, feet, and hands. The pain is so bad that there is no way she can work and it’s practically constant. She also shocks all the time. She cannot control her blood sugar. It’s up and down like a yo yo everyday and she is often in the emergency room. She can’t work like that. But what makes my blood boil is that Social Security will not put her on disability for just “Diabetes”. To me, that’s discrimination. She is totally diabled and cannot work. She has no income. She has applied three times already and uses lawyers but the SS Administration still refuses.

  • On Cape Cod

    I have Type 2 diabetes. Recently my health insurance company (BC/BS of the National Capital Area) offered me a free inclusion into a program sponsored by them called ConditionCare. I ignored the first 3 invitations but eventually spoke with a representative to decline inclusion. I had to give reasons for my refusal to accept the program. Further, I received an unsolicited e-mail newsletter from BC/BS concerning diabetes management and information. I unsubscribed to the newsletter. In 2 forms of communication with BC/BS I expressed my concern that through medications received from them via their mail-order prescription service I have been profiled. I additionally expressed to them that I feel my privacy has been violated and that the insurance company has taken on a role (by attempting to manage my health care through providing me with information and guidelines about my condition) that should be managed only by my team of health care professionals, all of whom are preferred providers with BC/BS. This begs the question of Will I one day be denied coverage because of this profiling? Maybe this new law will prevent this.

  • rgerster

    I was managing an auto parts and service retail store, and I got a new district supervisor. The new supervisor saw my diabetic kit in my bag which was lying open in my office. He asked what it was, and since I had always been very open about my disease, I told him. He asked when I thought I would be over it. That statement was a precursor to his driving me from my job.

    I have never asked for much in the way of accomodating my disease from anyone. I am sensible and a good planner – I have always been able to stay healthy and do regular activities without complaint. Over the year after I got the new supervisor, he instituted policies and schedules that I could not plan around. I would frequently be unable to eat anything between 6AM and 2PM. As a result, I really had to load up at 6, and eat a very quick and unhealthy meal at 2 (fast food). I started gaining weight, and my A1C soared into the 13’s. In addition I lost my mental sharpness. I would make stupid mistakes as the day wore on. I suggested an alternatives that would fix the issue, and was rebuffed at every turn. Eventually he used a company ownership change to dismiss me.

    I would have been happy to go if it weren’t for his announcement that the company wuldn’t be paying any of my rightful separation pay and benefits. Fortunately, I had been taking notes every step of the way. An arbitrator not only ruled in my favor, he also tacked on an extra six months of unemployment and allowed me to collect the pay while I went to college.

  • CC

    I work for a small company that does offer health insurance, and for a number of years, at time of renewal, we had meetings to explain why costs were going up, and coverage decreasing. Several times, comments were made that any person with a chronic disease, such as diabetes were partially to blame for increasing costs. Although, no names were mentioned, I know that I was, at that time, the only person in our company with this disease.
    I hardly ever miss a day due to my illness,(mostly out of necessity) and use mostly generic drugs. A person should be measured for their ability, and not used as a negative example, simply because they have what the medical world considers to be a (dis)ability.

  • Weskm

    Look: He must be a Druggie, He’s shooting up!

    Is just one aside comment I have heard when I take my insulin while out and about and doing my dosage for the Carbohydrates i am about to consume.

    If the conversation continues I have on occasion turned and said to the atogonist, Pray you never get diabities or you may become a forced druggie yourself!

  • MHH

    I don’t have time to say much. I have been diabetic for over 35 years!I feel that I have been discrinated against for one job in perticular but I can not prove it. That was the mid to late 1980’s.
    I am brittle and unable to control by BG’s. Having worked very hard at it, at times, I want to give up, but I don’t. I am a yo yo. There is not always a reason, that I can determine, why my BG’s fluctuate so much. Once I get control then things change and what I did not longer works. I am hoping to get disability so I can find the time to seek extra help to solve my problems. Diabetes effect everything about my life. My concentration, memory, ability to stay an task and devote time to things other than what my Bg is and what I need to do to keep it right. It is too much!
    It never used to be this bad but now it is. My 7 year old has had to save my life as well as my mother and my husband, many times. What is a disability? Diabetics like me are missing an organ, a vital organ. So much of our energy is spent trying to compensate for that loss. It might be a little easier if I was missing a foot, which is something that could happen!
    I am not negative, I am a realist. I’ll never stop trying but it sure would be nice to have some support. Hopefully this change in policy will help.
    Good Luck to all of you.

  • Frances

    I am in need of help in applying for disablilty. As time has passed on, I have no insurance to cover for diabetic meds, and testing strips. I also need help in getting disabilty. Can you assist me. I also have trouble with very high blood pressure, and it is difficult to keep meds.
    PLEASE HELP…IF YOU CAN. I thought diabetics are suppose to get help…..

  • Linda Campbell

    Please, I need to know if applying for disability due to diabetes is an option, it is becoming difficulty to function as I once did,healthcare provider (LVN) , is my occupation and because of my problems in concentrating , memory being affected I don’t want to wait for something bad happens.Please help!!!

  • Tyler

    Unfortunately I was in the truck driving industry when my diabetes hit.i was 24 years old 3years into my career and I was no longer allowed by fmcsa to drive my truck. Truck cost was 460a week for the truck plus120 a week for insurance to haul my loads. Since I am 170 lbs and have a family history of this god awful disease. I must take insulin.my questionis this, though I know all about the disease,have a a1c of 7.4 but now have bad credit and no CDL whose fault is it? I’m not disabled but I am labeled as so.i cannot get my pilots licence operate a crane,or do anything else I am interested In because of the federal government. I’m just wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do for a living now that I’m so restricted with this disease. Maybe a advanced biology degree from John Hopkins in stem cell research. Oh wait that’s right I can’t afford it because I’m so far in debt with a bad credit score. Any thoughts?

  • Jody

    I, too, have been disqualified from driving a truck because of an A1C of 7.9. I spent 23 years driving a truck and cannot find a job I am good at. I tried selling cars, but, the hours of simply standing and the boredom didn’t go well with my disease. I tried a manufacturing job that involved constant walking for 12 hour shifts and I began losing feeling in my leg. I had been approved to drive in the past with a A1C of 10 and the government changed the requirement. The last job I did was testing new equipment for a major manufacturer of commercial trucks. I had no accidents, no citations, and over 2 million miles. Now, I’m losing everything. I do not have medical insurance, so, the medications that were helping me I can no longer get prescriptions for because I can’t pay for the bloodwork and office visits. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Hope others are coping better than me.

  • George S Jablonski

    On July 10, 2014, I went to a clinic certified by DOT to renew my yearly Dot physical card. My commercial driver’s license was suspended because I was diagnosed with uncontrolled Diabities. After 3 month, I got reinstated and got my commercial license back. My problem is that the company that I was working for wont take me back. Do I have any legal rights? I’m 66 yrs old and broke. Can not find a job if my life depended on it. Any advise?