D.C. Federal Court Rules People with Diabetes Cannot be Denied Employment Based on Disease Management
May 21, 2009
Yesterday, a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discriminated against Jeff Kapche when it refused to hire him as a Special Agent because of his diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) celebrated the verdict. "ADA has long advocated that each person with diabetes should be judged based on his or her merits, not on stereotypes. This is an important victory as we march towards a world in which each person with diabetes is judged fairly," said John Griffin, Vice-Chair of the American Diabetes Association and one of the lawyers who represented Kapche.
In the case, Kapche v. Holder, the FBI contested that Jeff Kapche, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, could not perform the job of an FBI Special Agent because he chose to manage his type 1 diabetes with insulin injections. The FBI argued that its policy requiring Special Agents to manage their diabetes with insulin pumps was necessary given the unpredictable nature of the job, ignoring both medical evidence about injection therapy and Kapche's own impeccable record of diabetes management without complications.
"I am thrilled the jury understood that the FBI’s decision was discriminatory and that I could be a good Special Agent," said Kapche. "I don't want anyone else to go through what I have experienced and I hope this jury verdict sends the message that employers should look at each person as an individual, not simply someone with a disease."
Kapche was also represented by Kathy Butler, a member of ADA's Legal Advocacy Subcommittee. "The jury understood that ignorance of diabetes leads to discrimination and that is just plain wrong. Because of Jeff Kapche, others with diabetes no longer need to check their dreams at the door," said Butler.
Kapche, who is currently a detective with the Fort Bend County, Texas Sheriff's Department, had previous experience fighting discrimination when he was denied employment with the San Antonio Police Department, also because of his diabetes. That case wound up in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which ruled such blanket bans were unlawful. Before applying to the FBI, Kapche was assured that his diabetes would not stand in the way of his becoming a Special Agent.
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Since 1940, our mission has been to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.