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ADA and diabetic workers;
know your legal obligations, limits

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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

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