Diabetic employee

Employee in question has been occasionally late and performance is sub-par - enough for managers to be concerned. These issues have been addressed with the employee, and the response has been (on more than one occasion) it is due to not taking insulin and was not feeling well, etc. Employee has also called in late/absent for the same reason.
Is this enough for the employer to begin the "reasonable accommodation" process by sending a job description to the Dr. and the form asking if any accommodations are needed? Or are we 'regarding' this employee as disabled? The employee has NOT asked for an accommodation, but not taking the proper medications on a regular basis seems to continuously be the reason for these peformance and attendance issues.
The plan is to do a 'formal' performance review and if the employee states these issues are due to the diabetes, we will take the next step with the reasonable accommodations. But is this required of us if employee is not taking insulin? Does this negate any accommodations?

Pretty basic questions, but it's that gray area we are trying to be cautious about.



  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Since the employee has offered up a medical reason for the poor performance by claiming that he has diabetes that contributes to the poor work, it is proper for you to go through the interactive process to come to a conclusion of whether or not the employee is ADA disabled and what, if any, reasonable accommodations are needed to allow hm to perform the essentila duties of the job. This would include inquiring of the doctor to verify that the employee has diabetes or whatever medical condition exists, whether th emeplyee is taking any remdial or mitigating measure that and to what extent the medical condition impacts one or more major life activiites with the adjustment for any remedial or mitigating measures such as insulin or medication), and if the insulin in turn imapirs one or more major life activities, whether the condition is permanent or long term, how the condition, affects the employee's ability to do the job, and what recommendations the doctor has that would allow th employee to perform the essential duties of the job.

    You would not be considerd "regarding the employee as disabled" by merely inquring while you were going through the interactive process.

    Send the doctor a complete job description, including information about he duties of the job, and the physical, mental and environmental demands of the job.

    If the sole issue is the fact that he is not taking medication that results in the increased impairment to the "significant level" - when if he would take the medicatoin on a regular basis it would not -- then the emplyer is NOT obligated to change anything about the job. It is the employee's obligation to take whatever measures the doctor has prescribed and failure to do so does NOT get the employee off the hook for poor performance. To help him along, you may want to have the superivsor remind him about the insulin, although you are not obligated to do so under ADA. But make sure that is the case and discuss that issue as you start the interactive process and gro through it. You may even need to disuss it with the doctor.
  • Thanks for such a thorough response -
  • Hatchetman -- great response that is well worth saving for future reference. This advise fits many similar situations.

    We have had cases in which employees get doctors to write notes that say the employee needs to work just 1st shift. Our employees rotate shifts bi-weekly. Our response has always been to interact with the the employee and the doctor to figure out what the employee really needs. In the case of employees with diabetes, the doctor typically states that the employees needs a stable life style until the blood sugars come back under control. In the end, we provide the stable life style by assigning the employee to a steady 2nd or 3rd shift with cooperation from other employees. We do this until the blood sugars are under control.
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