I have worked for the government for 33 years. I kept my “condition” a secret from most co workers and very few managers. I trusted no one due to a couple of incidents. And I was right not to. One I remember really well. I finally let my boss know that I was a T1D. I explained what that entails and I told her I was doing well with it. I thought it was the responsible thing to do in case something happens. However, we were all in a staff meeting where most branch supervisors attended (like myself) and also a few top management. The discussion was about expanding our travel to do assessments at naval bases. I was one of the volunteers and explained why I would fit for that task. My boss that was there, interrupts me and asked me openly in the meeting, “Can you travel with diabetes” Are you sure it will be safe for you to take on this task? Don’t you have to medicate or something? She was not only ignorant on how to be a leader, but also ignorant in diabetes. People around the room no longer looked at me for my efforts, ethics and hard work. Things became apparent that I was no longer a good candidate. This put a damper on my career there in that position. Of course I applied for other jobs in the government and in each one I was promoted and I really believe is because I kept my health and personal business to myself and dealt with treating myself in silence.
That is a tragedy and mind blowing. I’ve been lucky to have great jobs where people accepted and learned a lot from me about the big D. I felt free to reveal it since there were often times I needed help when blood sugar was low (before CGMs could alert me) and people were happy to help.
Yes I have, basically all the time, especially since the AIDS crisis came about in 1981. I figured out how to use it to my advantage. One place I worked when I was much younger made me go the HR building to check my BG. It was a large, beautiful campus and it was a 20 minute walk each way. I didn’t have back problems then so I enjoyed the walk. Then I got hired by the federal government and they also wanted me to go to the ER to check my BG. I filed a grievance with my union and won. Turns out they have to give me my own office (SWEET!). Some people can be so ridiculous; I mean, it’s not blood splatter. Often I don’t even get enough blood to conduct the test.
I worked in Child Protection in Florida for a brief period of time. This was before CGM were common so I had to do blood test to find out my glucose levels. At a home visit that was running very late I had to check my glucose level during the time another agent was handling the case. Afterwards I was called into the supervisor’s office and told to never check my glucose again while on the job. I quit shortly thereafter. I went to HR and informed them this was illegal but that I had no intentions of filing any claim. I just wanted them to know not to repeat this with any other people protected by ADA. I did not get a kind reception from them!
Typically, this resulted from abject ignorance relative to the realities of insulin dependence e.g. scheduled meal breaks, intermittent sick time and time off for critical medical appointments were sometimes met with passive if not aggressive resistance. Ultimately, I landed in an HR role and helped develop reasonable accommodations for T1Ds.
Yes. But, it was a long time ago. In 1977, when I was first diagnosed with T1D (Juvenile Diabetes), I was working as a traveling sales rep. for an international food company. When I told my boss my diagnosis, he told me to look for a new job. I quit and went back to college.
Years later, long before blood tests, insulin pumps and CGM’s, I worked in a correctional facility, and was purposely not allowed to perform some duties that others in my position were allowed to do. However, considering my constant rollercoaster blood sugars, and my constant brain fog, back in those days, it was wise that I was not allowed to perform some of those duties. However, after I got onto the insulin pump, and later CGM, I was able to perform all of the duties that I could not perform in earlier years.
Yes, even though I had 20+ years as a professional scientist prior to T1D! So I am now on disability, supplementing with small projects and gigs I can get that are flexible to my needs. It’s been quite an adjustment.
Yes, when I worked for John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas in 1968. I was not allowed to get workman’s compensation because of my type 1 diabetes.
I was blatantly discriminated against in my previous position, and I didn’t even know it for the longest time. My previous boss was a neat freak and a germaphobe who hated not just the sight but the knowledge of the presence of blood. She made me walk down the hall to the ladies’ room to check my sugar. The one time she caught me at my desk, even though I told her I was out of everyone’s way, she said, “Yeah, but the bloody tissue will still be in your trash can.” We were a small non-profit, so we didn’t have an HR department that I could report her to, but board members of the organization were notified after she’d already been fired.
Only FOUR TIMES by Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry Processing after they bought out the ConAgra Poultry Processing division and took over the chicken processing plant I worked at from 1996 to April 2012.
First three times they discriminated against me Pilgrim’s Pride put me out of work saying “Because you have Diabetes and need to use Insulin, you should have never been permitted to hold any job that involved you operating heavy equipment or power tools, so we’re letting you go pending further review.”
First 3 times, I tried working with them for negotiation but ended up forced to report it to the EEOC for prosecution and forced job restoration.
All four times, the EEOC ruled that Pilgrim’s Pride WAS GUILTY of Employment Discrimination against me, got Pilgrim’s to restore my job the first three times and levied hefty fines against Pilgrim’s, of which I received NO compensation even for lost income while my case was being fought.
The fourth time, the EEOC told me that they had again found Pilgrim’s Pride guilty of employment discrimination against me but that fourth time, Pilgrim’s told the EEOC “We’ll pay the fines, but he’s already given us over 1.5 million reasons to refuse to allow him to return to our company!” EEOC still refused to tell me how much they had fined Pilgrim’s Pride for the employment discrimination against me, but when Pilgrim’s refused to allow me to return to employment, the EEOC DID tell me that up to that time, each of those “over 1.5 million reasons” Pilgrim’s refused to let me return to their company was $1 that Pilgrim’s actions against me had cost them in fines and they then told me that after that fourth time of being found guilty of having discriminated against me, the total fines against Pilgrim’s Pride would be getting pretty close to 3 million dollars total between the four times they had discriminated against me!!!
First time Pilgrim’s Pride was found guilty of employment discrimination against me was in 2003 and the fourth (last) time they were found guilty of employment discrimination against me was in April 2012.
Dxed in mid 60’s but since I worked for a Family Business (and Dad, the Boss was T-1) there was accommodation. In early 2000 went to work for Corporate Support Tech and had to ask for the same accommodation.
I have always been open about being a T1d. It became an issue only once, during my 50 (and still continuing) years of government service as a scientist. On that occasion, my supervisor thought I could be re-classified as a disabled person, and thus given a “special” designation ( also kudos to the supervisor for hiring the handicapped) and free up my valued government slot so an additional person could be hired.
I did not go for this opportunity.
Fortunately I have not been discriminated against. However my previous employer made it practically impossible to go to my doctor appointments even though I always made up my time. This was not just against me it was to any employee.
“…You cannot test in public…because it can spray someone…” was one of many prohibitions and severe problems.
Why are you here senior store supervisor sir, may I help you? No just making sure you’re not unconscious….
Lots and lots and lots of tangible examples.
Three times come to mind before it was illegal back in the 70s One company fired me because their insurance went up when they found out I was a diabetic. FAA wouldn’t hire me because I was a diabetic. Delta airlines hired me and then when they found out they immediately fired me this was all very devastating to me at the time. I did get a job with the Teamsters and there was no problem And all my medication’s were included
in 1974, about to start on an aerospace/air craft assembly line, was told at the last minute that “the navy does not want diabetics assembling navy aircraft.” They put me in payroll.
In 1969, IBM terminated my employment after discovering I was T1D. I had accepted their offer of Computer Sales Rep, moved from Maine to near their office in Massachusetts and was told they couldn’t honor their offer. I went back to the Burroughs Corp and they gave me the job even after I had rejected their offer. That wouldn’t happen today….obviously.
For eight year I was blocked by one manager from any assignment that might involve travel because his grandmother had diabetes and refused to travel. I have subsequently been to 22 countries on business and leisure travel.
One of the positions I held involved significant travel. I guess I was lucky that I never experienced (or knew about) any discriminatory feelings towards me due to my diabetes.
Very fortunate. No, in fact my employer supports me and the insurance covers 100% of insulin costs and test strip costs without having to meet deductible. Pump supplies are another issue but I only pay a %age after deductible met so I always try to order right before new year begins. However, while I think I had the gene, T1D I think was triggered because of a project for work. Working about 60 hours a week and got really run down.
Wow, after 51 T1D years, the number of jobs and time are many, from not being hired in the early years, to most recently being placed in a dangerous situation to challenge my ability to keep management in check w/o accommodations. Attitude from coworkers is an additional hidden or accepted discrimination or abuse.
These stories are incredible! I’m so lucky not to have to fight anyone in order to do the work I love. Thank you to all you warriors who dealt with so much –
Most of the time my job performance and perfect attendance went a long way in my avoiding discrimination issues and the like. I worked in local govt and our leave time was a pool of both annual leave and sick days. The difference was that annual leave was pre-approved and not used against your job evals. I always scheduled any appts at least a month in advance – that sort of thing.,
There was one deopt head who was discussing me with an upper executive. The dept head (I know this because the discussion was right outside the open door of several colleagues – who were in their office) said I should never get a promotion. WHen asked why, the response was that I was irresponsible. More questions from the executive. The dept head’s reasoning was that I had diabetes. The dept head insisted that since diabetes is self-induced or inflicted, I wasn’t responsible about my health. How could I be responsible to handle large budget projects.
I was dx’d with Type 1 diabetes in 1976 after working at that company for about 5 or 6 years. I left that company in 1994 to join my husband in his retirement. I had started in an entry-level office position and was in my 3 supervisory position when diagnosed. I never hid my diabetes and don’t feel it affected my job performance nor how I was treated by the company. I continued receiving promotions and greater responsibility. The various jobs I held would be classified as white-collar and that may have been a factor as no “safety” issues or production issues were involved when I needed to treat a low BG.
The last 20 years of my employment I never had any trouble with my employment. The people I worked with kept an eye on me. I was and always will be grateful.
At first thought I picked “no”. But after thinking about it I was laid off after 27 years of continuous employment, 25 years after T1d Rx. I was told sequestration was the reason. But I didn’t get full retirement benifits soecifically health benifit. I ended up taking COBRA at $1,500 a month for 2 years. Dom bean counter probably won an award for cutting me off.
Is it part of a Diabetes Educator’s job to tell patients about the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? About the law? Obviously, YES.
They should also remind newly diagnosed patients to contact an attorney who specializes in filing and winning anti-discrimination law suits for advice. The initial consult is usually free. They can help you build a strong case.
Btw, years ago I learned that T1ds CAN qualify for a commercial drivers license…Think of driving an 18-wheeler. 🙂 When a knowledgeable friend suggested I get a pilot’s license, I said, “But you know I have diabetes and have to inject insulin and do urine checks and blood tests. Me? Flying a plane?” He told me it would be no problem. I was astounded. I wonder if he had CIA connections.
During the epidemic people thought you could get AIDS from a drinking fountain or from a toilet seat or shaking hands or a hug. Hey, diabetes is not nearly as contagious as a cold or the flu. 🙂 Next time someone criticizes you for discretely (or not) injecting insulin or taking a blood test, ask them if people in wheelchairs or on crutches make them even more uncomfortable.
I was retired when I was diagnosed LADA. However, I subbed for the school I retired from for a year after just a few days here and there. I really didn’t know how to answer that question, My principal made me feel very uncomfortable when she commented to the entire office that my phone had been going off all day long. It was, mostly highs being I was sitting all day. (dexcom) I was newly diagnosed and still learning.
Most of my employers have not understood the differences between type one and type two diabetes. Therefore, believe it’s a problem I caused and can overcome myself. I have never received accommodations. Even asking repeatedly and trying to explain what’s going on in my body and head. I have always been treated as a problem, not an asset.
I worked for a “Big Box” company (the Orange one) and was constantly discriminated against, even after I gave them an Intermittent FMLA from my doctor!
Yes, 20 years ago, HR dept for a new position I accepted tried to tell me I had to wait 6 months before being accepted on the Health Insurance plan. I had to inform them of the federal law stating that since I was covered by my previous employer’s health plan, the insurance company nor the employer could not apply a waiting period. The health insurance company was extremely unfriendly and unwilling to cover claims for simple things like an endo’s 4-month appointment. It was a legal fight to get them to pay even routine checkups.
Although your employer cannot legally discriminate against you because of a chronic health condition or disability like T1D, it can happen. Have you ever felt discriminated against in the workplace because of your T1D? Cancel reply
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Insurance only covered FSL. Changed insurance and went directly back to Dexcom