Diabetes discrimination! Need advice!

So I haven’t worked in long while, 2 1/2 years, as I was my mother’s caregiver until she unfortunately passed away in March. Since then I have been searching for an office job in my field unsuccessfully. Due to going crazy being home all the time I decided to take a seasonal job at the Mall to get out of the house and meet other people. So I was hired on the spot with the possibility of a management position due to my experience. Even though this is a seasonal position, being management would help in the “real job” search. The store does not to open until November 1st so we have been getting all the merchandise stocked and ready to sell. Being that I have not had to put out this much energy in a long while my sugars were all over the place. I didn’t help myself that day because in trying to not be late I forgot all my diabetes supplies including my insulin. By late afternoon I was nauseated, dizzy, blurred vision, and had a huge headache. The woman who hired me asked if I was okay and told her I need something to eat as I was a diabetic.

Sooooo… yesterday she finally decided who would hold what position and told me that due to my being diabetic she didn’t feel comfortable hiring me for management, so I would only be a sales clerk! I was floored and didn’t know what to say. In all my years of being diabetic this has never happened to me, it always happened to someone else. Unfortunately I didn’t say anything back to the woman, I was too stunned. When I got home I told my sister what happened, and we all know how siblings can be. She wanted me to quit and call an attorney. Being that this is only a seasonal position I don’t want to say anything. I just want to sweep this under the rug and go on, and keep working, but it’s just nagging at me that I can’t just say nothing. No one witnessed her saying this to me and I don’t have the money for an attorney.

I don’t know what to do if I really should do anything at all. I really do know that I should, I just don’t know how without losing my job or creating undue drama. Can someone give me some advice please!

Well I agree. They’re wrong. And if they are foolish enough to fire you if you take legitimate legal action…well some people like bigger shovels when they dig themselves into a hole.

The whole lack of witnesses etc…I’m not sure about. But you can check with EOC office in your area and see how it goes over. If you are head and shoulders above the other canidates (esp the one who got the job) then they will be hard pressed to explain how they decided to give that job to someone else.

If its a legitimate complaint and looks like it will be successful (big money award)…you will find a lawyer to take the case. THey will just snatch a third off the back end,

I’ll start out by saying, yes, you were treated badly, probably illegally, by an ignorant woman. My advice is to tell her where she’s wrong, explain that everything you’ve accomplished has been while you had diabetes and ask her to reconsider. That’s if you want to keep the job. If you don’t want to keep the job, give her hell.

In short, take a human approach, not a legal approach.

What you should do about it is to learn a lesson and move on. The aggravation of pursuing a lawsuit IN THIS CASE would not be worth it, IMHO. It’s time consuming and emotionally draining and NOT conducive to finding a full-time position anywhere. If a prospective employer learns that you sued your last employer over a seasonal job, they will find a reason to hire someone else.

So, what’s the ‘lesson’? Always keep your supplies with you, especially if you want to hide your condition. Always keep your supplies with you, even if you don’t want to hide your condition, and be upfront, even militant about it. “I have diabetes, which I have successfully controlled for x years while achieving A, B, C and D. I’m sure your company can ACCOMMODATE that, can’t it?” Always keep your supplies with you, even if you forget them, by either having a back up supply or by turning around and going back to get them.

Yes, technically, there’s a case here. The lack of a witness is a problem, but not insurmountable. On the other hand, you did exhibit symptoms that made you unable to perform your job and it was due to your own lack of preparation. You’d have to establish that you could perform the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation from the employer. Unfortunately, you don’t have a good track record with this employer.

Even if there were a lawyer who would take this case, it is NOT a big money case. It’s a seasonal job. You weren’t expecting to keep it long in the first place. The damages you would be entitled to would be the difference between the sales clerk position and the management position for the time you expected to keep the job. What’s that? A couple thousand dollars? That’s small claims stuff. No lawyer would touch it because her expenses would outstrip the case within a month. She might get the other side to pay her attorney fee’s, but they’d only do that if there was a trial and they lost. Since her fees would be worth more than your case, she’d be suing them just to get paid - her interest in the case would be greater than yours - not a good dynamic. The chances of getting an award for emotional distress or for punitive damages are slim in most cases and this case, too. There was no longstanding relationship, there was no promise of a promotion, there was no demotion, there was not denial of a benefit that every other employee gets, you aren’t out on the street. Your only hope is that the employer is a big name megabucks corporation that doesn’t want the embarrassment.

Yes, I am an attorney, licensed in California, but this is not legal advice, just my opinion. An attorney close to your home might have a different opinion. It wouldn’t hurt to ask, consultations are usually free.

If you want to simply teach these people a lesson but keep your job, file a complaint with the state and/or federal equal employment office. They’ll start an investigation, but by the time it’s over, this seasonal job will be way, way over. It may even be the next season. If your employer retaliates against you because of the filing, congratulations, you’re starting to build a case.

Best of luck

It is tough to top Terry’s advice. One thing I have to remind myself is that there is little linkage between what constitutes discrimination in a legal sense, and what is unfair, boorish or just plain nasty in a human sense. There is a difference.

Another possible idea is to take a look at the American Diabetes Association’s page on the topic. They tend to stay on top of such things.

I am sorry for what has happened to you. I think its ignorance in the part of the hiring manager. Since you decided to keep working, now your work can speak for itself. It becomes a teaching tool. One low moment does not define what we can do at work or anywhere else. I am in the corporate world and sometimes I think i have to work twice as hard as people without diabetes. I like to be able to go one day without feeling weird but I realize now that my supplies are my lifeline and I am sure you know that. I know retail must be a lot harder since you have to be constantly in front of people and you dont have that chance to run off and make sure things are good. Sometimes after long projects and delivering on time and on budget people are amazed at what I can accomplish when I tell them I am diabetic. I dont know if I should be insulted or delighted. But I know that I have changed the perception of what a diabetic is and what they can accomplish.

I have had my moments in the middle work when I go low. It makes me more prepared the next time. So my advice learn from this experience and educate. I learn to realize that one door closing on me sometimes opens new ones and maybe along the way I can make a friend and teach them about what I can do and not about what I cant do.

take care

Thank you all for your informative advice. I have never been someone who threatens legal action but I also had never been in this position either. I do have to say that your responses were hard to swallow. Especially Terry’s advice! I just never expected to get all that information, the real legal substance.

I do have to say this; I have always taken good care of my blood sugar levels especially when working and have never had an “episode” while at work. So this was a first for me. Usually I never say anything to anyone about my diabetes, they find out on their own and most usually it’s another diabetic. I have always worked in an office up until now. I do have college degrees and a good business sense. I hadn’t worked in 2 ½ years and even though this is just a seasonal retail job, I was very nervous that first morning. For me I had a lot riding on this job even if it was just to build employability skills due to having not worked in a long while. Having not worked in 2 ½ years and having spent the last 6 months looking for work just to be turned down one too many times can really take its toll on a persons self confidence. So this occurrence didn’t help one little bit.

I know there is no real justifiable excuse for my leaving my supplies behind, but it happened. So with that said I will take the “human” approach should I feel it’s appropriate. Believe me when I say this situation will never happen again. I will also be continuing the search for better full-time regular employment! Have no doubts about that!

Hi Nicole,

Best of luck to you. I a, glad you got tons of advice on all the fronts… I believe having a backup supplies kit its a great way to cover up… My husband has at least 3 monitors, the one he carry with him, one at the office and one in the car. Insulin its easy for him because he wears a pump. And as aware as we are of the importance of having glucose tablets with us, or candy… there have been times, many times where I had to rush for juice because he forgot. We are all humans,we forget here and there, there is a lot of pressure for all the PWD to carry so many vital thing with you all the time… so my piece of advice is to work hard on finding a system of backups that works for you, do it for yourself first. Best to you,