10 Responses

  1. June S
    June S July 18, 2011 at 9:57 am | | Reply

    Great post! Thanks! I have never had any issues with Type I diabetes on the job, but I have never been attracted to employment that involved driving. I’ve worked as a secretary and as a teacher, and am still employed as a teacher. I wear a CGM, and keep a box of Juicy Juice on my desk. I do recall an interview with a school superintendent back in 1994. It was to be my first-ever teaching job, and I inquired about the health insurance before signing the contract. The superintendent said “Why are you asking about the health insurance? Do you have some sort of medical condition?” I said to him “Actually, you’re not allowed to ask me that question, but since I have nothing to hide I will share with you that I have Type I diabetes, and keep it under very good control so that it does not interfere with my work. However, in order to keep my blood glucose levels as stable as possible, I need access to good health insurance.” I accepted the job, and left it two years later for reasons UNRELATED to Type I diabetes (or health insurance.)

  2. Mike Hoskins
    Mike Hoskins July 18, 2011 at 11:59 am | | Reply

    Allison, what a great post! Very real issue for so many people and it’s great having someone from your own community actually on the front lines combating this type of situation when it arises. Kriss, thanks for sharing some of that information here and for sharing some of your own story about how diagnosis changed your career and life path and sent you in a different direction.

  3. Stoyan
    Stoyan July 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm | | Reply

    Very interesting post. It is indeed an issue that is not always talked about, but definitely exists. The community needs to lend support in such cases.

  4. Maggie
    Maggie July 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm | | Reply

    Great post! I have had type one since I was 5 years old and I am currently 21 years old. When I was 19 I got a job at a Coach store in Mishawaka, IN. During the interview for the job I told the store manager that I have type 1 and the manager did not seem concerned by this. When I was hired I spoke with management and my fellow employees about diabetes and that I may have times when I would need to step in back for 15 minutes or so to fix a low blood sugar. Everyone seemed okay with that. After about a month and half of working there I was working on a busy Saturday before Mothers day. I had a low blood sugar while I was working so I spoke with two managers who both denied me a break because we were busy. Angry isn’t even the word I felt when I was told no. I was in disbelief that because we were busy that they wanted me to risk my own health. To make matters worst one of the managers that told me no has a family member with type 1. I decided to ignore both of the managers and I left the store to get a juice becuse I was out of glucose tabs in my purse. When I came back to the store management did not let me sit down for a few minutes. I have always been a very tough person and decided that I would keep working and that I would speak with the managers at a later time when we were not as busy. Frankly by the time the shift was over I was too irritated to speak with them. I decided at that point to quit the Coach store. My mother and I spoke with the store manager about this incident and another incident that happened when my infusion set broke at work and my blood sugar sore to 500 and I was told I could not leave work to fix it! The manager told us that they were too busy to let me take a break or to leave the store. My mother responded by saying would you rather have an ambulance interrupt your store? The manager had nothing to say at that point. It was an awful experience with diabetes in the work place. Before that experience I thought I was a good advocate for myself, but now I can say that I will never let anything like that happen ever again. The only person advocating for me is me.

  5. Joe D.
    Joe D. July 19, 2011 at 1:47 am | | Reply

    I was laid off a while back and am still searching for a job. (Unfortunately, I have a lot of competition for each job in the IT industry.) I have two related questions:

    1) Most of the applications have a separate affirmative action survey they want you to fill out. Many times, it’s mandatory, but you can decline individual questions. I typically say no to whether I have a disability. Would that waive my rights under the ADAAA? Should I perhaps just decline that question?

    2) I participate on several diabetes forums. I recently noticed a lot of my activity (under my actual name) on those forums turn up in Google searches? Should I be concerned that potential employers are covertly screening me based on that activity? I didn’t realize all this time that they were captured in Google, since I thought the message board were members only.


  6. kriss halpern
    kriss halpern July 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm | | Reply

    I just read the comments of Maggie and Joe D and had a few thoughts.
    Maggie: What they did to you was obviously wrong and, in my opinion, unlawful. But this does happen to many of us and we are obliged to deal with these situations as best we can. It is, of course, even harder to handle this kind of thoughtlessness when you are low since you are obviously not at your best and may be unable to think properly. This is one reason why I generally think it’s a good idea, once hired, to let an employer, a manager, a friend at work, know of your diabetes so that if something like this happens it can be dealt with more easily and without the degree of difficulty you had to put up with.
    Joe D:
    1) I am a bit confused by the affirmative action forms you are describing. It sounds as if they are asking these questions in order to show they are interested in hiring someone with a disability. But I do not see how that makes it lawful to ask a question like that during a job interview. I could understand it being asked after the job is offered, but not before. There may be something I am not understanding. As for your question, my answer is: No, saying you are not disabled does not waive your rights under disability laws any more than it ends the fact that you have diabetes. A lot of us who have diabetes do not see ourselves as disabled and would not naturally say yes to a question like that. I suppose a certain kind of employer [thoughtless; aggressive; unfair] might use an answer like that against you if you ever tried to seek an accommodation for your diabetes, but i do not think that would be a battle they’d win because of your answer on that form. I would not worry about it.
    2) I definitely think there are employers who check social network sites to investigate employees. Facebook and sites like this are easy for them to check unless the site is kept private. [Personally, I try to keep my facebook page private, but i have no idea if i know if i am always able to do it properly. For that reason, I’ve pretty much stopped using facebook. You can avoid identifying yourself on this site, of course, by the way you refer to yourself…as you did here in asking this question.
    –kriss halpern

  7. Joe D.
    Joe D. July 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm | | Reply

    They do ask these questions separate from the application and say it’s voluntary in order to provide statistics for some federal regulation. The practice is very common. They all claim the interviewer/hiring manager never sees the survey results.

    Almost nothing on my Facebook profile is publically viewable, so the recruiter would have to be a friend to view my personal details. However, discussions and profile data from sites like TuDiabetes and Juvenation are available to the public Google searches and I see no option on these sites to turn that off.

  8. Elaine D.
    Elaine D. July 22, 2011 at 8:29 am | | Reply

    Excellent article and a big thank you to Mr. Halpern for all he does and has done for Type I diabetics. Hopefully, my seven year old son will not face any discrimination in the workplace when the time comes. The tools to manage diabetes continue to get better and better, so that should help tremendously with control. Also, I am so inspired by Mr. Halpern helping the Guatemalan people. It just reinforces that one person can make a a huge difference.

  9. Kris Castro
    Kris Castro May 13, 2012 at 1:13 am | | Reply

    Even more frightening than the overt discrimination against diabetics that Maggie experienced is the covert discrimination that happens in the workplace. I have worked in HR for fifteen years, and I have diabetes. My first employer had an HR director who was a very decent and caring person, and my diabetes was never an issue because his number one concern was the welfare of his people. However, not all employers are like that. I have seen, and personally experienced, supervisors who know that discrimination is illegal and get around the law by creating bogus performance issues. In a job that requires judgement or independent action, like most supervisory or management jobs, it is easy for someone to say you did something wrong. Although a detailed review of the paper trail may prove otherwise, it is unlikely a higher power will take the time to do that review. Fighting against disguised discrimination like that is not easy.

  10. Tara
    Tara June 13, 2013 at 9:29 am | | Reply

    @June – wow you could have straight sued him for that – employers are NOT allowed to ask about medical history! Good for you taking the high road though, I’m glad they had the medical benefits you needed.

    @Kris – this is exactly how my husband was cheated out of a job – though it wasn’t related to diabetes, but still, the management ganged up on him and before you know it, he’s being “reviewed” even though his performance isn’t different than before. Suddenly, he has a bunch of problems apparently (even though his coworkers are worse than he is) and is fired for no reason and because he was a temp worker, no unemployment.

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