Teens with diabetes want part-time jobs as must as kids without diabetes. How does diabetes affect their chances of getting a job and what accommodations should an employer make?
The good news is there are very few jobs your teen cannot do – thanks to medical advancements and job protection laws.
Be open with employers.
Your child is not obligated to disclose that he has diabetes – in most employment situations. However, it is best to tell an employer in case he needs special accommodations, such as breaks for insulin treatment.
Blanket bans are illegal.
Gone are the days when organizations could refuse to employ someone simply because of a disability. New developments have led to an environment in which employers are obligated to focus simply on an individual’s abilities and qualifications.
Know what’s allowed for pre-employment exams.
Some jobs require a pre-employment physical. To find out what’s permissible during these exams, visit www.diabetes.org and search “Employment Discrimination.”
Read up on your child’s rights.
An employer cannot:
- Refuse to hire or promote you based on your diabetes.
- Fire you because of your diabetes, unless you pose a “direct threat.”
- Fail to provide you with reasonable accommodations that enable you to do your job efficiently.
- Discriminate with regards to employee-provided health insurance.
Understand anti-discrimination laws.
These federal and state laws protect people from workplace discrimination:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act: Covers state and local governments, private employers, labor unions and agencies with 15+ employees.
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Applies to employees of the executive branch of the federal government and employers receiving federal funding.
- The Congressional Accountability Act: Includes employees of Congress and most legislative branch agencies.
- State laws: Each state has its own set of anti-discrimination laws, as well as agencies to enforce them. Some states offer even more protection than federal laws.
Learn how your child can be a “qualified person with a disability.”
To gain protection from federal antidiscrimination laws, your child must show she’s a “qualified person with a disability.” According to these laws, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. For diabetes, the main activity affected is the function of the endocrine system. Additionally, your child must demonstrate she is a qualified candidate who can carry out the job with reasonable accommodations.
Understand the meaning of “reasonable accommodations.”
Any adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a person with a disability to do their job is referred to as an accommodation. Those required by people with diabetes are usually inexpensive and easy. If your child requests a reasonable accommodation, his employer is required to make it – unless it would inflict “undue hardship” on the employer – such as substantial expenses or difficulties.
Your child may undergo medical exams for their job.
If your child has an issue with hypoglycemia on the job, the situation may raise safety issues for the employer. In this case, the employer may rightfully ask your child to undergo an employment physical or other medical exam.
If he’s a safety risk, your child could be disciplined or fired.
This is a possibility if your child violates workplace conduct rules that are uniformly applied to all employees – even if the conduct was due to hypoglycemia. Diabetes discrimination cases are oftentimes based on an employer’s claim that an employee with diabetes creates a safety risk to other employees. Unfortunately, this may be based on the employer’s ignorance about the condition. You and your child may need to educate the employer to dispel misconceptions.
Know your child’s rights in case of termination.
If your child is fired because of diabetes, she has a right to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with your state fair employment agency.
You have good reasons to be upbeat about your child’s future career.
Gone are the days when there were barriers to entering certain fields if you had diabetes. In fact, it’s hard to find a job today that’s off limits. Diabetes experts have developed guidelines that assess whether a person is able to work in firefighting, EMS and law enforcement – rather than be automatically disqualified. Other jobs – such as IRS agents, mechanics, FBI agents and manufacturing plant workers – are also now open to your child.
Thanks to a more knowledgeable population, prejudice against medical conditions and disabilities seem to be disappearing in the United States, and your child’s future career choices look very bright.
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.