Islets of Hope  Is diabetes a disability?  What civil rights laws protect diabetics?

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Written by Lahle Wolfe

Source:  Publication PA-04-2006; Revised 12/06; Published by Islets of Hope, Diabetes and civil rights law: "An overview of your legal right to equal access to programs, benefits, opportunity, accommodations, education, and employment"  Read full publication (.pdf)


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Diabetes and Civil Rights Laws
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Back to main Civil Rights Section

Is diabetes a disability?  Is everyone with diabetes considered disabled according to federal law?

Many people with diabetes may not see themselves as disabled because they are able to lead a normal life without special accommodations.  Yet, they may still face discrimination despite being able to do a job, attend school, or may even be denied access to programs based on being perceived as having a disability. But others with diabetes do require reasonable accommodations (i.e., students at school) and may qualify as being disabled based on their ability to participate in one or more major life activities.

In October of 2005 a class-action lawsuit was filed by four families in Northern California against California schools aserting that children with diabetes were protected under federal (and state) disability laws. In August 2007, California courts rendered a landmark decision by legally establishing that children with diabetes were disabled according to both state and federal legal definitions and therefore, have protected rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1973 as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Civil rights laws are complicated and if you feel you are being discriminated against you should obtain professional legal counsel.  But a great place to start is by knowing and understanding that diabetes, contrary to what many employers, child care facilities, and learning institutions might tell you, may be classified as a disability.

It is important to remember that it is not simply having diabetes that qualifies a person as being disabled, but how diabetes has impacted their life.  Just because some individuals with diabetes may not qualify for protection under civil rights laws does not mean you don’t.  Read more

Did you know that an employer may not deny a job to a qualified applicant simply because s/he is married to a person with diabetes or has a child with diabetes?  This type of discrimination, called "Discrimination by Association" is illegal.

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Page Updated 08/15/2007