Success Stories

You're not alone. Others have faced - and defeated - discrimination because of diabetes. Here are some recent examples.

Erin Argueta

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Erin Argueta

Millions of people in the United States who have diabetes travel. Those who wear insulin pumps and need to get through security at airports learn about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules that might affect them. Then, they figure out how much extra time they might need to get through security to make their flights on time.

Erin Argueta has type 1 diabetes, wears an insulin pump and has traveled to over 100 countries around the world. Erin has learned to allow extra time at the airport since the security process for her situation involves a pat down search, rather than regular x-ray screening. On one occasion, Erin, a Business Analyst who travels several times a year for her job, had a flight scheduled. She let her supervisor know that she would need to leave work thirty minutes earlier than the normal time employees would leave for a flight, explaining that pat down searches can involve unexpected delays. Her supervisor then warned her that, if she left early, she could be written up and disciplined for not obeying the rules.

So, Erin contacted the American Diabetes Association for help.

One of the Association’s Legal Advocates (a lawyer experienced with diabetes discrimination) told Erin about her legal rights. Under the law (the Americans with Disabilities Act), Erin could ask for a "reasonable accommodation" from her employer. For this situation, that would mean that Erin could ask to leave earlier to get through airport security in timely manner.

Since Erin now understood her rights, she sent a more formal request to her employer that included information about the law and a supportive letter from her doctor.

The result?

Erin was given the accommodation she wanted: to leave work earlier to get to the airport in plenty of time.

Erin says, "I would like to formally thank the American Diabetes Association for the help I received with this matter. Having lived with type 1 diabetes for over 42 years, and having traveled a lot, this was the first time I have ever needed help with a travel matter. The Association is remarkable in standing up for the rights of people like me who have 'invisible' disabilities that people so often overlook. Thank you American Diabetes Association and your amazing Legal Advocate!"

Lauren Jess

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Lauren Jess

Ten-year-old Lauren Jess of Queen Creek, Arizona has type 1 diabetes. Lauren attends the Kids Club, a community-based childcare program at her local school. The Kids Club was created as a safe, caring place for children aged 3-12 to go, before and after school and during the summer. But, the Higley Unified School District, which runs the Kids Club, did not allow program staff to be trained in diabetes care, even though free training was available. Since the staff had not been trained about diabetes care, Lauren was not able to participate in any of the program events that involved food and drink.

Lauren's mother, Jan, was very unhappy about this.

She spoke with Anne Dennis, Director of Mission Delivery for the American Diabetes Association's (Association) Phoenix office. At Anne's suggestion, Jan then contacted a Legal Advocate, a lawyer in the Association's national office experienced in legal issues involving diabetes. Jan explained that, for many reasons- especially to keep Lauren medically safe at the Kids Club- it was necessary for its program staff to be trained in diabetes care. Jan learned from the Legal Advocate that federal and state laws protect children with diabetes in these situations-that Lauren had a legal right to attend and fully participate in the Kids Club. The Legal Advocate also gave Jan suggestions that she could use to speak about this with the program's director.

Success at the Kids Club!

After a lot of back and forth emails, along with at least one refusal to meet, Jan was finally able to meet with the Kids Club Supervisor and the school's Director of Community Education. Jan knew that the law was on Lauren’s side and was able to convince the program's managers to allow ALL of its staff members to be trained on diabetes care.

"Thank you to everyone who helped to make this program truly safe for every child who has diabetes!"

"Without the free legal guidance offered by the American Diabetes Association, this matter could have been ignored! But, it wasn't ignored. This was a major step, not only for Lauren, but for other children with diabetes who need to attend the Kids Program." Jan Jess

Kai Parker's Story

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Hired

Kai Parker, of Yucaipa, California, got the job he wanted, but it wasn't easy. It only happened with some help from the American Diabetes Association.

As part of the application process for a county government job, Kai, who has diabetes, had to have a routine physical, that included a blood glucose test. That test indicated a high glucose level. As a result, Kai was asked for a letter from his physician stating that he could perform the essential functions of the job.

Kai contacted the American Diabetes Association for help.

One of the Association’s Legal Advocates (an attorney with expertise in diabetes discrimination) helped him determine, and take, the next steps. The first was submitting that letter from his doctor. However, the letter was rejected by the agency as insufficient proof of his ability to perform the job. Kai was then asked for a more detailed review of his diabetes, which seemed a very intrusive request to make by the agency as part of it hiring process.

However, Kai wanted the job. With information provided by the Association’s Legal Advocate, as well as assistance from a local, California attorney, he wrote the second letter himself. His doctor signed it and Kai submitted it to the agency.

Kai got the job and is happy that he called 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) for help in the first place.

"Thank you for the help and support during this difficult period of time. I am glad to know there are knowledgeable, capable advocates for those who face adversity as a result of being diabetic. I will use my first check to become an Association member and support your organization so that you may help others the way you helped me."

"I can’t thank you enough for your assistance through this ordeal. I likely would not be employed right now without it."

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Read What Others Are Saying About the Legal Advocacy Program

"It feels very good to go to bat for a cause backed up with solid legal and moral righteousness. Thank you for your time, looking into this matter, and for supplying me with a nice, solid platform to begin our negotiations." — Parent of child with diabetes

"I appreciate all of your advice. As a parent, I was using personal feelings versus acting in a solution-based manner. I really appreciate your assistance." — Parent of a child with diabetes

"Just wanted to tell you thank you for speaking with me last week regarding my patients and the suggestions you provided. I received the packet of information you sent me and will make it available to our patients." — Health care provider

"Thank you very much for the time you spent counseling me last week and for the legal references you sent me today. It was so important for me to make contact with someone both caring, yet professionally objective and wise about how to approach reasonable accommodations at work. It is very hard challenging one's employer on an issue where you feel you have the moral and legal high ground, but do not know the "rules of the game" and what to do at each step. You have given me some options and perspective for which I am grateful." — Worker with diabetes

"I should have called sooner...I think I was being a little too patient. I am very grateful for your support and expertise in this area. I cannot thank you enough!" — Parent of child with diabetes

"Thanks so much for all of your assistance. I can't tell you how much it meant." — Worker with diabetes

"I want to thank you for the time you spent visiting with me on the phone recently. It is extremely encouraging to visit with someone that understands diabetes and is willing to provide information regarding this disease… All of us involved appreciate your willingness to keep an open file. This is the first time the family has experienced a friendly relationship, and we sincerely appreciate your helpful attitude." — Advocate for inmate with diabetes

  • Last Reviewed: October 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: January 28, 2015

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