Can I Inject Insulin in the Breakroom?

We weigh in on whether this is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act



After we published our series on workplace discrimination, we received this question on Facebook:

Are there laws that prohibit a person with diabetes from testing or injecting insulin in the breakroom at work? I was asked to inject in the restroom instead of the breakroom.
– Jacky T.

The short answer is that there is no law that we are aware of that would prevent you from testing your blood sugar or injecting insulin in the breakroom.

The court cases that came after the Americans with Disabilities Act settled that employers must attempt to make reasonable accommodations to help people with chronic conditions or disabilities stay healthy while performing their jobs. The one caveat to keep in mind is the accommodation requested must be balanced against a business’s needs.

To give you an extreme example, if you are a professional wrestler and you need to stop in the middle of every bout to test your blood sugar, that might be considered unreasonable, as it would get in the way of the central purpose of your job. Most jobs aren’t going to come with such hurdles to testing or dosing.

While you have the right to inject in the breakroom, what might be fruitful is to figure out why it’s being suggested that you use the bathroom. Is there a concern about hygiene? Is someone squeamish about blood? Is there a lack of understanding about what you’re doing? You might be able to problem-solve and alleviate your co-workers’ concerns.

Testing and dosing is important and should be done as soon as needed. That being said, even though there’s no need for you to be exiled to the bathroom, there’s nothing wrong with at least considering some other kind of reasonable accommodation of your own for your co-workers.

This answer should not be considered legal advice.

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Craig Idlebrook is managing editor for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. He's written about health policy, environmental health, community health, and maternal health for over 25 publications. You can reach him at cidlebrook@epscomm.com.