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[IP] Diabetes covered by the ADA?

Someone posted here that diabetes was "specifically mentioned" in the
ADA.  I looked up the full text of the ADA online and couldn't find any
mention of diabetes.  I did, however, find articles about a 1999 Supreme
Court decision which would imply that diabetes is NOT covered (I'll post
the text below)..  Of course, this was from 3 years ago, so maybe the
law has since been changed.  Could someone provide a citation as to
where in the ADA diabetes is mentioned?

As for the question of whether diabetes is a disability: the ADA defines
a disability as a "physical or mental impairment which substantially
limits one or more major life activities".  When I think about it,
diabetes sort of fits, but not exactly.  There is very little that we
CAN'T do because of our diabetes.  But, we have to take our diabetes
into consideration with almost EVERYTHING that we do -- whether it's
taking the dog for a walk, having lunch, or working overtime at our
job.  So in a way, ALL our life activities are "limited" in the sense
that we can't be quite as spontaneous as somoene without diabetes.  But
are they "substantially" limited?  I guess that depends on your

BTW, I do agree with the ruling to an extent; it makes sense that
whatever treatment a person is receiving for their condition should be
taken into account when deciding what accomodations the employer must
provide.  But if, even with treatment, a person still needs some
accomodation, the employer shouldn't be exempt from providing it because
the person is receiving good medical care!  That's the case with
diabetes (especially T1 and insulin-using T2).  Even with the best
treatment available, we still need to check our blood sugars multiple
times per day, we may need to take a break and have a snack if our sugar
drops too low, we need to be allowed to either inject insulin or wear
our pumps, etc.  None of these things strike me as being much of a
strain on any employer.

Anyway, here's the article.  And again, I would love to see posted
anything that specifically includes diabetes as part of the ADA!

Supreme Court Limits Meaning of Disability

                  By Joan Biskupic
                  Washington Post Staff Writer
                  Wednesday, June 23, 1999; Page A1

                  The Supreme Court significantly curtailed the scope of
a federal law
                  designed to protect disabled workers from
discrimination yesterday. By a 7
                  to 2 vote, the justices ruled that the Americans With
Disabilities Act does
                  not cover people whose disabilities can be
sufficiently corrected with
                  medicine, eyeglasses or other measures.

                  In their broadest look at the ADA to date, the
justices decided four
                  disabilities cases, the most important being a pair of
rulings that would
                  prevent millions of people from seeking coverage under
the landmark 1990
                  law. The highly anticipated rulings could profoundly
affect individuals with a
                  range of impairments  from diabetes and hypertension
to severe
                  nearsightedness and hearing loss  who are able to
function in society with
                  the help of medicines or aids but whose impairments
may still make
                  employers consider them ineligible for certain jobs.

                  "These decisions create the absurd result of a person
being disabled enough
                  to be fired from a job, but not disabled enough to
challenge the firing,"
                  asserted Georgetown University law professor Chai
Feldblum, who helped
                  draft the statute and who was one of several advocates
who said they
                  would ask Congress to change the law.

                  The rulings represent a substantial win for employers,
who praised the
                  court's decision to limit those covered by the
statute. "Employers make
                  reasonable accommodations for employees who are truly
disabled," said
                  Steve Bokat, general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, "but they
                  should not have to relax necessary standards for
employees who have
                  common and easily correctable ailments."

                  The disability cases were closely followed by workers,
businesses, civil
                  rights advocates and the Clinton administration, which
had urged the justices
                  to interpret the law in a broad manner.

                  By identical votes of 7 to 2 in a pair of cases  one
involving two
                  nearsighted pilots and the other a mechanic with high
blood pressure  the
                  court ruled that when judges assess whether a worker
pressing a
                  disability-bias suit qualifies as "disabled" under the
law, they must take into
                  account any measures that lessen the worker's

                  By a unanimous vote in Albertson's v. Kirkingburg, the
justices ruled that
                  employers who set job qualifications based on federal
safety standards are
                  not required to dispense with those standards when a
worker  in this case,
                  a truck driver blind in one eye  obtains a waiver
from the federal agency.

                  By a 6 to 3 vote, the court ruled that states must
place certain mentally
                  disabled people in community homes rather than
hospitals. In a case
                  focused on a provision of the ADA that prohibits
discrimination by public
                  entities, the court generally sided with two Georgia
women with mental
                  illnesses who had sued state officials for keeping
them in a psychiatric
                  hospital long after their doctors said they were ready
to live in a community

                  Enacted after years of effort, the Americans With
Disabilities Act was
                  meant to open jobs and public spaces to the nation's
then-estimated 43
                  million disabled people. The law defines a
"disability" as a "physical or
                  mental impairment that substantially limits one or
more . . . major life
                  activities." Yesterday, the court addressed the most
fundamental question of
                  how to determine who is and is not "disabled."

                  The main ruling dealt with twin sisters from Spokane,
Karen Sutton and
                  Kimberly Hinton, who were turned down for pilot jobs
at United Air Lines
                  because of their extreme nearsightedness, failing the
airline's minimum
                  requirement for uncorrected visual acuity of 20/100.
When they sued under
                  the ADA, judges said the law did not cover people who
can correct their
                  disabilities  in this case, with glasses  and get
along as well as most other

                  Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed, rejecting the
position of the U.S.
                  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the
majority of federal
                  appeals courts.

                  "Looking at the act as a whole," Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor wrote for the
                  majority, "it is apparent that if a person is taking
measures to correct for, or
                  mitigate, a physical or mental impairment, the effects
of those measures 
                  both positive and negative  must be taken into
account when judging
                  whether that person is 'substantially limited' in a
major life activity." She said
                  the language of the law requires a person to be
limited "presently  not
                  potentially or hypothetically."

                  O'Connor noted that Congress had written in the law
that "some 43 million
                  Americans have one or more physical or mental
disabilities" and argued that
                  if the law were intended to cover all those with
common, correctable
                  impairments such as nearsightedness, that figure would
have been far

                  But the majority also emphasized that whether a person
has a disability is an
                  individual question and that some people who have
prosthetic limbs or other
                  corrective devices could still be considered
"disabled" because of a
                  substantial limitation of their life activities.

                  O'Connor was joined by Chief Justice William H.
Rehnquist and Justices
                  Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter,
Clarence Thomas
                  and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Sutton v. United Air Lines,
as well as in the
                  related ruling involving a mechanic with hypertension,
Murphy v. United
                  Parcel Service.

                  Dissenting in both cases were Justices John Paul
Stevens and Stephen G.
                  Breyer. In a statement written by Stevens, they said,
"[T]o be faithful to the
                  remedial purpose of the Act, we should give it a
generous, rather than a
                  miserly, construction."

                  Roy C. Englert Jr., who represented United, said he
was pleased with the
                  court's ruling, which was cheered by other employers
as well. Human
                  resources lawyer Ted Gies said the court provided
important "clarification"
                  about who is covered by the ADA and its decision will
help to reduce ADA
                  lawsuits. "Most people would say," Gies said, "that
the biggest human
                  resource and legal challenge is the ADA."

                  But Michael A. Greene, a lawyer for the American
Diabetes Association,
                  said the ruling puts people who take medicine to
function in society in a
                  difficult position. "You're damned if you don't
medicate, but you're damned
                  if you do, because you lose your legal rights," Greene
said, adding that
                  sometimes impaired persons who can do the job might
nonetheless seek
                  special accommodations or extra time off for medical

                  The case on community placement, Olmstead v. L.C.,
spoke to increased
                  efforts to move mentally ill people from institutions
into communities in an
                  effort to end their isolation. A key provision of the
ADA says disabled
                  persons shall not be discriminated against "by reason
of their disability" by a
                  government program or service, and the Justice
Department has said that
                  means programs must be offered "in the most integrated
setting appropriate
                  to the needs" of people with disabilities.

                  Georgia officials, backed by numerous other state and
local governments,
                  had argued that a state does not discriminate under
the ADA when it keeps
                  the mentally ill in hospitals, even though a community
setting might be more

                  But in an opinion by Ginsburg, the court ruled that it
is indeed illegal
                  discrimination "when the state's treatment
professionals have determined
                  that community placement is appropriate, the transfer
from institutional care
                  to less restrictive setting is not opposed by the
affected individual, and the
                  placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into
account the
                  resources available to the state."

                  Concurring justices stressed that states should have
"wide discretion in
                  adopting its own systems of cost analysis."

                  Dissenting were Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. In a
statement for the trio,
                  Thomas said it is not "discrimination" when mentally
ill people are
                  temporarily excluded from community placement centers.

                  Staff writer Kirsten Downey Grimsley contributed to
this report.

                               ) 1999 The Washington Post Company
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