Understanding limits and protections

Today, diabetes isn't the obstacle that it once was, but there are still a few jobs that you (or your grown child) can't have if you have T1DM. These jobs have a blanket ban against people with diabetes, so if you have the disease, you can't have the job no matter what your condition. Among these jobs are:

1 Armed forces 1 Commercial airline pilot 1 Fire services

1 Jobs requiring a large goods- or passenger-carrying vehicle license 1 Police services 1 Train driving 1 Working at heights

Advancements in diabetes management and glucose control are slowly but surely wiping out the blanket ban. For example, there used to be a blanket ban on people with diabetes working as any type of airline pilot. Then it was recognized that with proper precautions, a person with T1DM can safely fly a private plane. It's expected that soon the door will be opened to working as a commercial pilot as well.

As a person with T1DM, you're protected in the workplace by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1998 that the act, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees, protects people with diabetes. It's illegal for your employer to ask if you have diabetes, but he can request that you undergo a physical examination to determine if you're well enough to do the job. Years earlier, the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 accomplished the same thing for anyone applying for a federal job or a job with a company that receives federal aid.

These laws put the burden on the employer to show that the employee isn't qualified to do the job. If the employee is qualified for the job (just like anyone else) and his diabetes requires some reasonable accommodation, like allowing him to eat on the job as necessary or go to the bathroom, the employer must comply.

With all the different kinds of insulin and delivery systems that are available now (see Chapters 10 and 11), it should be possible for you to accommodate any work schedule. It's true, however, that you'll have difficult time keeping your blood glucose normal if you have to constantly change work shifts, so a job with a changing schedule may not be the best choice for you if you have T1DM.

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