A diabetic woman quit her job after her manager allegedly not only searched her belongings without permission, but also accused her of taking drugs.
The woman, Abby Gebo, posted a video on TikTok in mid-April describing the meeting with management at her unspecified former workplace. The video has been viewed approximately 83,000 times.
She said the manager “almost called the cops” about her, even telling another employee to prepare to make a call. Gebo, who according to the message could be a waitress, said the manager found his insulin in a backpack but did not originally know who it belonged to.
The manager reportedly said he “expected better” from her, asking if she was holding the syringe for someone else. He also said he didn’t know she was on “drugs”, again mentioning the syringe.
Perplexed, she told him that she was diabetic and he already knew that.
“My niece is diabetic and she doesn’t use needles,” the official reportedly said. “I know they use pumps.”
She explained “some people can’t afford pumps” so they use vials and syringes, in which case he would tell her to “prove it”. So she showed him the bottle.
“You’re lucky,” he said. “I’m watching you. …I’m just making sure none of my staff do drugs.”
It was then that Gebo told her that she had quit. In other videos, she talks about being diabetic and advocating for others, so they “have access to specialized treatment and know they’re not alone.”
Users were furious that her manager searched her personal assets in the first place. One user with type I diabetes said she would be “livid” if this happened to her.
“I would have involved HR,” said one user. “It is illegal to search your personal belongings.”
“Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) they can’t legally ask you, so they’re breaking the law when they ask you,” another said.
The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities, whose diabetes is considered by law. In 2013, when the United States had approximately 18 million citizens with diabetes, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers “cannot ask about an applicant’s medical condition or require that ‘a candidate undergoes a medical examination before making a conditional job offer’. .”
This includes asking employees if they have been diagnosed with diabetes or if they use insulin during a job interview. And even if an employee lets an employer know they have diabetes, an employer “generally cannot ask an applicant who has voluntarily disclosed they have diabetes questions about their diabetes, treatment, or prognosis”.
Questions could only be asked in this case if an employee needed a specific accommodation. Also, while employers can ask employees with diabetes if they have a “reasonable belief” that a job can’t be done safely, that doesn’t appear to be the case, as the TikTok video shows. .
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 37.3 million Americans, or about 1 in 10, have diabetes, including about one in five who have diabetes but have never been diagnosed.
Last year was the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.
Gebo’s profile also states that she is in “recovery from diabulimia.” The non-profit National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) calls it a “media-coined term” for an eating disorder in people with diabetes, usually type I diabetes. people deliberately restrict insulin in order to lose weight.
Some in the medical profession call it ED-DMT1, Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, which more broadly refers to any eating disorder in people with diabetes. ED-DMT1 is seen as the result of focusing on foods, labels, metabolic disturbances, and numbers such as weight and blood sugar.
“A person can develop diabulimia or ED-DMT1 at any age and at any time after being diagnosed with diabetes,” says NEDA. “Sometimes it starts with body image issues or a desire to lose weight, and sometimes it starts with exhaustion from diabetes. other patients. Treatment regimens should address both diabetes and eating disorder aspects.
In March, the US House of Representatives passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would cap insulin at $35 and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Earlier this year, California Governor Gavin Newsom said he wanted the state to produce its own insulin.
Newsweek contacted Gebo for comment.