Diabetes is a "disability" under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it substantially limits an individual's major life activities.
What are "major life activities" under the Americans With Disabilities Act? Basic activities that an average person can perform with little or no trouble, such as eating or caring for oneself. For further discussion of what is a major life activity under the Americans With Disabiliites Act as well as its Kentucky state law counterpart click here.
Diabetes can also be a disability when it causes side effects or complications that substantially limit a major life activity. Even if diabetes is not currently substantially limiting because it is controlled by diet, exercise, oral medication, and/or insulin, and there are no serious side effects, the condition may be a disability because it was substantially limiting in the past (i.e., before it was diagnosed and adequately treated). Finally, diabetes is a disability when it does not significantly affect a person's everyday activities, but the employer treats the individual as if it does. For example, an employer may assume that a person is totally unable to work because he has diabetes.
These are general guidelines. Ultimately, whether or not an individual has a disability must be determined on an individualized, case-by-case basis.
The EEOC has more information on diabetes in the workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act: "Questions and Answers About Diabetes in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)"
Lexington, Kentucky discrimination lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees in disability discrimination cases under the ADA; contact him at 859-254-7076.