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At work, school or anywhere―you have a right to be healthy

It's ironic that, with diabetes, appearing healthy can cause hiccups at work or school. But just because people can't see diabetes doesn't mean you have to put your health on hold in public places, at work or in other settings.

Legally, wherever you go, you have a right to bring diabetes care supplies with you. You can also take a break to check your blood sugar, eat a snack, take medication or use a restroom. From courthouses to shopping malls and theaters, you're covered.1

What does this mean in real life?1-3

  • Your child can't be excluded from a field trip or other school activity.
  • You can wear special shoes, if necessary, even if they don't fit the office dress code.
  • If you have nerve damage in your feet, your employer may need to provide a chair or stool for you to use instead of standing.
  • A student's grade may not be affected by missing school due to diabetes.
  • Your child can request a break, test or snack during standardized tests, college entrance exams or licensing exams. You may need to provide an accommodation request letter before or on exam day.
  • You can eat a snack at your desk to keep blood glucose in line.

What's more, you don't have to tell your nosy desk mate or neighbors why you have a different set of rules.4

For most jobs, you can't be discriminated against because someone simply has fears about diabetes having an impact on your own or their safety. (Standards for firefighters, police officers and commercial drivers advise that people be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and meet certain criteria. And there are restrictions for pilots and the military.) In other fields, an employer has to perform an individual assessment and show that a person with diabetes poses a direct threat to others' health or safety, and make an effort to provide accommodations, before taking any action against the employee.5,6

Bottom line, if it doesn't put an undue burden on an employer, you have a right to a change in policy. Outside the workplace, federal laws protect you in just about every school, camp and other public place in the country.1,2

Not working out that way? The American Diabetes Association has your back, with more details and steps to take in the face of a problem.

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1American Diabetes Association. Fact sheet: diabetes, discrimination, and public places and government programs. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

2American Diabetes Association. Reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

3American Diabetes Association. Standardized testing and diabetes. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

4Butler K, Schatz D, Hathaway K. Workplace checkup: keeping patients with diabetes employed and safe on the job. Clin Diabetes. 2014;32(1): 44–48. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

5American Diabetes Association. Safety issues. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

6American Diabetes Association. Getting a job. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2016.

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