16. Diabetes & the ADA

Hi, I’m Oce Harrison project director of the New England ADA Center. Today, I’m talking about diabetes and the ADA.

In 2007, Stephen Orr, a licensed pharmacist, testified before Congress about how he was fired for taking a lunch break to eat and manage his diabetes.

Stephen's case was thrown out of court when his employer successfully argued that because he did so well managing his diabetes -that he did not have a disability. Stephen’s story was one of several Supreme Court decisions severely narrowing who was protected by the law.  Many individuals with diabetes and other chronic illnesses found that they did not have rights under the ADA.

Because of Stephen’s testimony and the testimony of other individuals with disabilities, Congress broadened the definition of disability in 2008 to make sure that people with diabetes, cancer and other medical conditions are protected both in the workplace, and everywhere that the ADA applies including: day care centers, schools, hotels, restaurants, public transportation and even prisons.

If you are interested in knowing more… The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a document on their website about Diabetes and the ADA. It explains what types of accommodations people with diabetes may need at work.  Visit  eeoc.gov

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