Must you grant diabetic employees extra breaks as a disability accommodation?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Diabetes is not automatically a disability under the ADA. But if an employee can prove her diabetes substantially limits at least one of her major life activities, such as eating, then the employee is legally disabled and protected by the ADA. As a result, you’d be required to engage in an interactive discussion with the worker to arrive at a reasonable accommodation.

Recent case: Lisa Robbins, a TV station manager with type 2 diabetes, repeatedly asked her boss for a “more manageable” work schedule so she could better control her diabetes with regular meal times, routine blood checks and the opportunity to exercise.

Those requests were ignored. In fact, Robbins saw her workload increased after making the requests. She eventually resigned and filed an ADA lawsuit.

The TV station argued that Robbins couldn’t legally pursue an ADA case because she wasn’t “disabled” under the law. But the court sided with Robbins and sent the case to trial. (Robbins v. WXIX Raycom Media, No. 1:06-CV-278, SD Ohio, 2008)

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