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ADA and diabetic workers;
know your legal obligations, limits

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The incidence of diabetes in the United States is rising. More than 17 million people over age 20 are diagnosed with diabetes, so you face a good chance of having diabetics on your payroll or on an applicant list.

How must you accommodate them? The EEOC recently published a Q&A fact sheet to help organizations understand how diabetes interacts with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Among the EEOC's advice: You can never ask applicants if they are diabetics. If they voluntarily tell you, you can respond by asking only two questions: 1. Do you need an accommodation? and 2. What type of accommodation?

After offering a job, you can ask about an applicant's health conditions, including diabetes, and request a medical exam. But you can't withdraw the job offer unless it becomes clear that the applicant can't perform the job's essential functions or would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of herself/himself or others.

Diabetics can be considered "disabled" under the ADA. The law says that if an impairment limits "one or more major life activities," it could be a disability. In a recent case, a court said that a diabetic bank worker who needed to eat at her desk (against company rules) could be considered disabled because eating is a major life activity.

Find the EEOC fact sheet at www.eeoc.gov/facts/diabetes.html.

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