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Diabetes Under the ADA

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 5/30/2008
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One of my employees has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. Does this employee automatically become entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a result?

No. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability. Protection under the ADA is limited to individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity of such individual. Determining whether or not an individual qualifies for protection under the ADA requires a fact-specific analysis of the impairment suffered and the impact such impairment actually has on the individual in question. An individual's diagnosis, by itself, is rarely conclusive in determining the applicability of the ADA.

This directive is particularly relevant in cases involving employees who have been diagnosed with diabetes, a condition whose symptoms vary widely from person to person. Some diabetics can control their condition by making minor modifications to their eating habits, while others may require constant monitoring of blood sugar levels, multiple insulin injections, the use of insulin pumps, or even regular hospital visits. Given the difficulty of defining a "typical" case of diabetes, employers should not adopt or implement a single rule for all diabetic employees. Instead, employers, with the assistance of professional counsel, should conduct an in-depth analysis of the degree of impairment suffered by each employee with diabetes to determine if the protections of the ADA apply to that employee.

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Categories: 2008

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