Compliance with ADA guidelines is a two way street

by on January 14, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Employee had a responsibility to control his diabetic condition says ADA lawsuit.

Diabetes is a tricky disease. Controlled, it may not hinder an employee very much at all. But uncontrolled, it can put the employee and the company in danger.

An ADA lawsuit in Indiana provided a reminder that diabetic employees have a responsibility to take care of themselves. The employee, an insulin-dependent diabetic, had worked for a manufacturer for nine months through a temp agency. Later, he applied for a full-time job, and took a physical exam.

The urine-glucose test came back so elevated that the doctor recommended the employee not be hired because of his disability, uncontrolled diabetes. The doctor said he couldn’t meet the requirements of the job, which was physically demanding, involved operating dangerous machinery, and was done in temperatures ranging up to 110 degrees.

The employee wasn’t hired, and he filed a lawsuit under the American Disability Act. He argued that the “ominous predictions” of three doctors that he might pass out and fall from a height or be injured by heavy equipment didn’t prove that he was a safety threat under ADA guidelines.

Heightened risk
But the court said he did pose a heightened safety risk, and the employer was within its rights under the ADA to reject him.


While you may wish to accommodate diabetic employees through frequent breaks or other special arrangements, you aren’t obliged to jeopardize the safety of these employees or others.

Cite: Darnell v. Thermafiber, No. 04-2170, 7th Cir., 7/29/05.

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