A diabetic discrimination story

I have rearely told this story to anyone because of embarrassment and shame. But I'd like to share it with other diabetics to get it off my chest.

In 1983 I was dxd with T1 at age 23. I worked for an aircraft parts manufacrurer in a department in which the work was in a very hot environment and the work itself was very heavy part of the time, very inactive the rest of the time. This work environment made it absolutely necessary to test often. There were people I worked with that complained that they didn't like me testing around them, so I began leaving the work area to test.

One of my bosses was a poorly controlled T2 (this is not an indictment on T2s) who got together with a couple other supervisors to "monitor and correct" my abuse of my condition. Over the course of a few months it became more and more apparent that I was being followed and that my testing and correction of lows with sugar was being "documented". I was told by another D that I was being targeted for termination and to watch out. I was so afraid I'd lose my job because jobs were so hard to find at that time. I began having crashes and leaving for the breakroom more often so they stepped up the surveillance and intimidation. Finally, one night I was fired.

I hired a lawyer and eventually after some damning depositions , the company oofered a settlement that I accepted. There was so much shame and embarrassment associated with that experience that it has been difficult to think or talk about since.

Anyone else identify with this? Any comments on similar situations? Marps started a recent discussion that made me think of this. Thanks for listening.

I was once “let go” because I was “Diabetic” and may have a “problem at work” and lose them some money. I was advised to sue but didn’t because I lived and worked in the same tiny town(400 population).

Oh my. That is appalling. That is all i have to say.

Back in the early 80’s I was called in for a job was hired and was doing the paperwork. I always wanted ppl to know that I was a Type 1 diabetic so while filling out the paperwork I told the girl that was doing the hiring that I was a diabetic. She proceeded to tear up the paperwork and tell me that since I had diabetes I couldn’t work for the factory b/c “I might have a weak spell and fall in the loom and die.” Oh this was a textile factory. Times have REALLY changed since then my Type 1 daughter is a CNA now!

Oh my God how nasty such silly small minded people to be honest.
You have got nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about they where the once acting like you was doing something wrong when in fact it was them following you and documenting you treating your diabetes,what would they rather have happend you go into a coma at work or something?
Makes me angry, your better off as far away as poss from them.

thank you for sharing. No embarrassment here! We get it. Don’t worry.
I’m surprised that you pursued to the lawyer! I’m glad that you did. I never took that step and looking back, I wish that I had.

Work environments are so crucial to our D care. D is 24/7. No breaks. No vacations. No sick days. We spend 40+ waking hours at work (hopefully waking- haha) and if they don’t “get it” then how are we going to be able to manage our health when we are at work for half of our time spend awake each day?

I’m proud of you for speaking up. And for sharing your story.
Hopefully I will grow a pair of balls if this happens to me again. :slight_smile:

I feel weird saying but thanks for taking to court. you made it a lot easier for us today to work without discrimination

Hey Virgil, I feel bad you had to deal with those individuals and their ignorance. What did they think they could catch it? Please do not feel embarrassed-THEY should be embarrassed for their actions! More power to you cause you called them on it and sued them!!! They need to be taught a lesson! First off, you had a right to privacy for you testing, heck how about just basic hygiene, like washing ones hands??? They do not deserve to have the privilege to work with you. I am an office manager and have worked for many different companies. It is none of my business what ailments my employees have but I have always encouraged them to be open with me, to let me know if they have a medical situation or special needs. If someone for example has epilepsy, I certainly need to know what to do and how to help them - who to call. I would never use that against them, infact I feel respected more that they share with me. It is never an easy thing to do. The people I work with have been told I have been recently diagnosed, incase my sugar drops & I need help. They even felt bad to bring in the girl scout cookie list in!! I told them to order me 2 boxes of thin mints-my hubby will eat them!
Well, too bad you didnt live closer-I would make you come work at my company. People here are good-Just figure you were just dealing with some bad seeds.

I’m sorry this happened to you, but because of your courage to sue them, you’ve paved a new street for diabetics in the future. People’s small mindedness will never cease to amaze me.

You’re a diabetes pioneer!

In 1998 I was working temporarily for SPRINT and was told I would be hired permanently in 3 months. I was working there for about 4 weeks and had a bad hypo which required medical help (that was on a Friday). I worked the next week and that Friday I was working my husband called at the end of the day, in the evening while I was still working. There was a message on our home phone that said I was no longer needed at SPRINT. I thought about making a case but didn’t.

Dear JohnG,

HR knew I was D because I became D while working there and I told everyone including HR. If I had been able to check my bg near the work area it woudn’t have been a problem. I had bad lows BECAUSE I stopped testing as I should. All of us T1s have lows that need to be dealt with here and there; my lows were no different than other Ds before I was was stopped from testing because people knew what “I was doing in the corner of the room”. You know, this is the last place I would expect to have to defend myself.

Wow…what a bunch of morons!

i tried to get a job at the local chick fil a and they wouldnt let me because they were worried about bg testing around food. ok really, i could go to the back to test and then put a band aid on my finger if it bleeds bad.

Virgil, I’m sure I can speak for the majority and say you don’t have to defend yourself here.

Thank you all for sharing and your kind words.

I am so sorry for your experience… while I haven’t been officially harassed yet, for having Diabetes, I was harassed for having Depression issues, at work… and needing medical leave. I was gone for so long, and so incapable of leading a normal life, or even working part time 20 hours… that they gave me an ultimatum to come to come to work full time, or else I’d be fired. I really needed my job, and I was scared – I was on some pretty strong medications at the time – but I needed my job… So I convinced my doctor to let me off of restrictions, somehow, and got myself back to work… I had a major seizure at my desk that very week, and could not return to work the following Monday… So they fired me. It has eaten away at me for so long, but I have never been able to sue, or do much, because I have no money, and because they are an ‘at will’ employer… I was later found out to actually be Diabetic, and now that my numbers are controlled, my major depression and anxiety issues are very mild, to almost non-existent… I feel for you… I just get teary eyed thinking about it. I gave my ALL to that company, and I couldn’t believe they trampled me so much. I also, even though I am a Type 2, have poorly controlled Type 2 friends who basically are rude to me for being so ‘anal’ about my diet, or taking care of myself… But I don’t let them get me down… This disease is very real to me, because I lost my father to it, and I’m not going to fall asleep on my laurels… I now feel like I’m not alone, as much… and I am very grateful for your sharing of this story.


Summer 2004, when the federal ADA had already made D classified as a disability, my supervisor told me that he had received complaints about me checking my blood sugar in my cubicle. I told him that he is required to provide me a sanitary place to check my blood sugar and take my insulin. I asked him where that was. He said he would look into it. I started documenting everything. Then he started to do things like if I was eating an apple at 3pm, he would come up to me and ask if I was taking a late lunch break. When he started commenting on what I ate, I requested a transfer. I was denied. Then I went to our EEO office, and, since I had good notes, they took it to my second level super (my boss’s boss), and they denied the transfer. Then they took it to my third level supervisor and my transfer was immediately granted.

I work for the state of California, so this is more strange than if it were a private company. The thing, though, because of my hospital experiences, where you cannot trust a nurse to take care of you, I get really defensive when someone attacks my health care. I was told by the EEO officer that I could sue and I would win, but then I would have to relive it for a year or two, and then, even though you don’t want it, you will always be the person who filed a complaint. Word gets around, even if you are in the right. Perhaps she was looking out for the state rtying to not get sued, but I am glad I was just transferred and I could go back to work.


My sympathy to you. You were royally scrwd and you didn’t even get to enjoy it!!!

Depending on when this all happened, employers were not required to make “reasonable accommodations” for anyone until the ADA law was passed. (Americans with Disabilities Act) I not only told everyone in the office where I worked that I was diabetic but also had a short in-service training on how to recognize the signs of a low or high and what to do, who to call and all that jazz!! I trained them so well that my boss would go and buy me a soda at the least little weak look or sweating!! Unfortunately, it was diet soda!! LOL And, sometimes, I would do it deliberately because I was thirsty and broke!!!

I hope there will be a time when all offices are progressive. Fortunately, my office was in a state agency and they had to accommodate me. But they did it with love! Hope you some time experience those few nice people out there.


Thank you John. It’s a raw nerve and I reacted. No harm, no fowl. I really do think that if I were given the opportunity I would have been a good asset to the company. I have been a manager in different companies since and think this incident made me a better boss. Who’s to blame? As in every situation in life, usually everyone shares. It just hurt at the time; that’s the reason I posted this. Thanks for writing back.

It’s awful how other people’s ignorance, stupidity & insensitivity can make us feel ashamed & embarrassed when it’s their bad behavior. We internalize the intimidation & it festers. Really glad you got this off your chest!

Abuse of your condition–appalling.

Kudos for sueing. You’re a brave trail blazer!