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mafin82

DISCRIMINATION DUE TO HEALTH ISSUE

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I was terminated from a job for being a diabetic. My supervisor, stated that she felt that I did not eat correctly and that she had a hard time finding shifts for me to work. I requested nothing special and never called in sick due to this issue. She also repeatedly discussed this issue with my corworkers, what can I do??

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Not sure why she'd care whether you were eating correctly, unless it was affecting your behavior (and if you're diabetic, not taking care of eating properly, etc. can easily do that). Just something to note in future, but if you never needed a special accommodation (though I'm not clear what that would be other than bending rules as to, say, eating during "odd" times, etc.), if you never requested anything "special", it's unclear why you'd tell ANYone at work about being diabetic. It wouldn't be unlawful for the employer to "repeatedly discuss" the issue with co-workers once you told her about being diabetic.

At any rate, if you feel you were fired "for being a diabetic" (unclear what that means, however), then you're free to file a complaint with the EEOC and state equivalent.

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Your supervisor's statement that she "was having toruble finding shifts for you to work," after you would appear to have some seniority there, makes me wonder if you had asked for any accommodation as to sihfts and hours, which would need to be her reason or excuse for mentioning your diabetes to co-workers, but you indicate you had not asked for accommodations. Something is fishy here. Also, there may be nothing in California's labor law aginst your boss talking to your coworkers about your medical history and condition, but, unless it related to a need of yours for such a scheduling accommodation, or a real and reasonable concern whether this was affecting your work, which doesn't seem likely, ask a California lawyer about whatever privacy rights under California law. My experience is in Texas and you would be out of luck here. I'd stay at this job as long as you can but start looking for a new job because sooner or later they will fire you on some pretext and can probvably get away with that.

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Employers who deny job opportunities because they perceive all people with diabetes to be a safety risk do so based on misconceptions, misinformation, or a lack of current information about diabetes.

The first step in evaluating safety concerns is to determine whether the concerns are reasonable in light of the job duties the individual must perform. For most types of employment (such as jobs in an office, retail or food service environment) there is no reason to believe that the individual’s diabetes will put employees or the public at risk.

In other types of employment (such as jobs where the individual must carry a firearm or operate dangerous machinery) the safety concern is whether the employee will become suddenly disoriented or incapacitated. Such episodes, which are usually due to severely low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), occur only in people receiving certain treatments such as insulin or certain oral medications, and even then occur infrequently.

To read the Association’s clinical practice recommendation on this issue, see the position statement Diabetes and Employment.

Employers who deny job opportunities because they perceive all people with diabetes to be a safety risk do so based on misconceptions, misinformation, or a lack of current information about diabetes.

The first step in evaluating safety concerns is to determine whether the concerns are reasonable in light of the job duties the individual must perform. For most types of employment (such as jobs in an office, retail or food service environment) there is no reason to believe that the individual’s diabetes will put employees or the public at risk.

In other types of employment (such as jobs where the individual must carry a firearm or operate dangerous machinery) the safety concern is whether the employee will become suddenly disoriented or incapacitated. Such episodes, which are usually due to severely low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), occur only in people receiving certain treatments such as insulin or certain oral medications, and even then occur infrequently.

To read the Association’s clinical practice recommendation on this issue, see the position statement Diabetes and Employment.

What does “direct threat” mean?

Direct threat is a term used in federal antidiscrimination law that means the person with a disability poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the person or other employees that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation. It is a defense available to employers charged with discriminating against a worker because of a disability.

Employers who claim that a worker with diabetes poses a direct threat must first conduct an individual assessment of that worker’s diabetes before taking any adverse employment action. The employer must assess the worker’s present ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job, and the assessment must be based on reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge or best available objective evidence.

In determining whether a worker poses a direct threat, employers must consider:

  • the duration of the risk;
  • the nature and severity of the potential harm;
  • the likelihood that the harm will occur; and
  • the imminence of the potential harm.

Can I be disciplined or fired for having hypoglycemia

If your employer has workplace conduct rules that are applied uniformly to all employees, you can be disciplined if your conduct violates these rules — even if that conduct was because of diabetes, for example, your behavior was caused by hypoglycemia.

The most likely result from an episode of hypoglycemia on the job is that your employer may require a medical evaluation. You cannot be fired for having hypoglycemia without first conducting an individual assessment to determine safety risk, and without considering whether there are any reasonable accommodations that could eliminate the safety risk.

Contact us to discuss a specific safety or discipline issue with a Legal Advocate.

Can I be fired because my employer believes I am a safety risk?

As noted above, before your employer can fire you because it believes you post a safety risk, it must conduct an individual assessment of your diabetes and evaluate whether there are any reasonable accommodations that can eliminate safety problems.

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