Addressing Safety Concerns and Qualification Standards

Safety Concerns Related to Diabetes in the Workplace: An Analysis of Federal Law (PDF)
Brian Dimmick, JD, American Diabetes Association (April 2012)
This paper discusses how to evaluate safety concerns that employers may raise about individuals with diabetes, including an explanation of the science and management of diabetes and how to defeat legal arguments by employers that diabetes or its complications justify excluding an individual with diabetes from the workplace. 

Diabetes Employment Standards (PDF) (Oct. 2007)
This page describes several standards addressing the employment of people with diabetes in certain contexts. While not all aspects of these standards are medically appropriate in all cases, they may be encountered by attorneys litigating discrimination cases or may be instructive in determining whether a client can safely perform a job.

EEOC Testimony on Employer Testing and Screening (PDF) (May 2007)
On May 16, 2007, Shereen Arent, ADA’s National Director of Legal Advocacy, testified before the EEOC on employer testing and screening practices and how they impact people with disabilities, including diabetes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act and Bloodborne Pathogens Standard: Application to Diabetes Care Tasks at School and in Employment (PDF)
(Victoria Thomas, JD – American Diabetes Association) (June 2008)

Questions and Answers: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Hiring Police Officers (U.S. Department of Justice) (2006)

Fire Fighting and Diabetes

Case Materials

Click on the links below to find information, including opinions and pleadings, in the following cases which addressed issues of coverage under the ADA.

Branham v. Snow
7 th Circuit held that defendant had failed to prove that the plaintiff was not qualified to be an IRS special agent despite safety concerns about his type 1 diabetes. Plaintiff ultimately prevailed at trial .

Darnell v. Thermafiber
Defendant’s doctor decided that plaintiff was not qualified for a factory job because his diabetes was “uncontrolled” and thus he posed a safety risk. The 7 th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendant.

EEOC/Armstrong v. Northwest Airlines
Plaintiff was rejected for a position as a baggage handler because the airline argued his “poorly controlled” diabetes posed a safety risk.

Kapche v. City of San Antonio
5 th Circuit held that a policy barring anyone who uses insulin from becoming a police officer because of alleged safety risks is invalid.

Kapche v. Holder
Plaintiff prevails after jury trial on claim that FBI denied him position as special agent because of safety concerns related to his use of injections rather than an insulin pump.

Rodriguez v. ConAgra Grocery Products
Defendant argued plaintiff was unqualified for a job in its factory because his diabetes was “uncontrolled”. 5 th Circuit granted summary judgment to plaintiff..

United States v. City of North Kansas City
The Department of Justice settled a case involving an individual with insulin-treated diabetes who was rejected for a firefighting/paramedic position.

United States v. Mississippi Department of Public Safety
The Department of Justice settled a case involving an individual with insulin-treated diabetes who was dismissed from a police training program after he experienced hypoglycemia.

Wise v. Akal Security
The U.S. Marshals Service removed plaintiff from his job as a court security officer because of a high A1C value. As part of the settlement of the case, the USMS agreed to adopt a protocol calling for individualized assessment of people with diabetes.

  • Last Reviewed: October 9, 2009
  • Last Edited: July 17, 2014

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