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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
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ADA Doesn’t Rule Out Diabetics, Court Says

(CN) - The 9th Circuit reinstated the employment discrimination claims of a type-2 diabetic, saying the employee should not have been denied protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As an insulin-dependent diabetic, welding metallurgy specialist Larry Rohr asked his employer, the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, to scale back his out-of-town travel.

Salt River allegedly misinterpreted his doctor's orders to mean that Rohr could no longer travel for work. He said they gave him the option of finding a stationary job at Salt River, applying for disability benefits or taking early retirement.

Rohr sued his employer for allegedly failing to accommodate his disability, as he could still travel for inspections and training, just not to work as a "borrowed hand" during plant outages.

The district court dismissed the case on the ground that Rohr is neither "disabled" nor a "qualified individual" under ADA.

But the 9th Circuit said the lower court had "oversimplified" Rohr's condition.

"While it may seem easy to take a pill or shot of insulin, the reality of diabetes, a chronic and incurable disease, is not so simple," Judge Baer wrote. "For people like Rohr, who must treat their diabetes with insulin, the failure to take insulin will result in severe problems and eventually death.

The court concluded that Rohr raised a "genuine issue of material fact" over whether he has a disability.

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