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Designate specific areas to support employees with sensitive health issues

Why: 

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which took effect July 26, 1992, prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
An individual with a disability is a person who: 1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, 2) has a record of such an impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such an impairment.  Diabetes is a disability when it substantially limits one or more of a person’s life activities or causes side effects or complications that substantially limit a major life activity.  Most sensitive health issues are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Nursing mothers are not covered, however.  See Step 5 of this section for the benefits associated with supporting breastfeeding women.

How: 

A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.  Reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to vacant positions; and
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.
  • Regular work schedules, meal breaks, a place to test blood sugar levels, or a rest area for employees with diabetes.

An employer is required to make an accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business.  Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.

An employer is not required to lower quality or production standards to make an accommodation, nor is an employer obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

Other workplace goals:

  • Develop a supportive work environment so that employees with sensitive health issues, such as diabetes, feel comfortable adopting and performing the behaviors that promote good control.
  • Provide encouragement and opportunities for all employees to adopt healthier lifestyles that reduce risk for chronic diseases.
  • Demand the highest quality medical care for people with sensitive health issues.
  • Establish workplace programs that promote breastfeeding.

Resources:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act:  www.ada.gov

  • Centers for Control/Disability and Health:  www.cdc.gov/fact/diabetes.html

  • CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/breastfeeding_interventions.pdf

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  www.eeoc.gov/facts/diabetes.html

  • Diabetes Advocate:  www.diabetes.org/main/community/advocacy/default.jsp