Higher Incidence of Diabetes and More Charges of Discrimination Spur Need for Information About Application of Americans with Disabilities Act
WASHINGTON - In the spirit of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a fact sheet on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to diabetes in the workplace. This publication, available at www.eeoc.gov, is designed to assist employers, as well as applicants and employees with diabetes, in understanding their rights and responsibilities.
"While there is a considerable amount of general information available about the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers and employees alike often ask questions about how the ADA applies in employment situations involving certain illnesses and conditions," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "This new fact sheet focusing on people with diabetes is intended to be the first in a series to address specific types of disabilities."
The fact sheet covers such topics as: when diabetes is considered to be a disability under the ADA; when an employer is permitted to ask an applicant or employee questions about his or her diabetes; types of reasonable accommodations employees with diabetes may need on the job; and how an employer should handle safety concerns about people with diabetes in the workplace.
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 17 million people living in the United States have diabetes, and incidence of the disease is on the rise. Significant legal developments in seventh and ninth circuit federal courts pertaining to ADA coverage of people with diabetes also have generated interest in this topic. During the past five years, the EEOC has seen a 13 percent increase in the number of charges filed under the ADA alleging discrimination based on diabetes.
President George W. Bush has proclaimed October 2003 to be National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time when private sector entities; federal, state and local government agencies; and advocacy organizations showcase the abilities of people with disabilities, and focus attention on removing barriers to employment. This year's national theme is "America Works Best When All Americans Work."
In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.