Government rescinded offer for position in Kabul, Afghanistan because of employee’s Type 1 diabetes, in violation of Rehabilitation Act
William Taylor, Assistant United States Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. today, alleging that the State Department and the Department of Justice have discriminated against him because of his diabetes.
Mr. Taylor had been offered a one-year detail position working with the State Department, to serve as a Senior Legal Advisor in the Rule of Law program based at the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. He accepted the position and submitted to the medical clearance process. He was cleared to work in Kabul by two medical providers, and the State Department issued him a Class 1 Unlimited Clearance for Worldwide Assignment, meaning that he was medically cleared to work anywhere in the world.
Despite his worldwide medical clearance, the State Department refused to allow Mr. Taylor to work in Kabul, claiming that the government did not want to deal with managing patients on insulin in Afghanistan. Mr. Taylor appealed the State Department’s decision internally through several levels of appeals, but his appeals were denied without a hearing or any effort by the State Department to contact Mr. Taylor’s medical providers.
As Mr. Taylor’s primary employer, the Department of Justice could have granted a waiver, allowing him to work in Kabul despite the State Department’s decision, but it did not grant the waiver, once again without a hearing or any contact with Mr. Taylor’s medical providers. Mr. Taylor also requested that both the State Department and the Department of Justice consider reasonable accommodations to allow him to work in Kabul, Afghanistan, but they were unwilling to engage in discussions about potential accommodations.
Mr. Taylor has lived with Type 1 diabetes for nearly thirty years. His diabetes has always been well-managed with an insulin pump and continuous blood glucose monitor.
Neither the State Department nor the Department of Justice raised any concerns specific to Mr. Taylor’s diabetes and instead denied him the position in Kabul outright, simply because he has Type 1 diabetes. Such a blanket ba -denying Mr. Taylor the position in Kabul solely because of his diabetes-is a patent violation of the Rehabilitation Act, the federal statute prohibiting government agencies from discriminating against employees based on disabilities.
The government’s actions here have been devastating for Mr. Taylor. “The federal government is supposed to be a model employer for employees with disabilities. It is disappointing that both of these agencies hold outdated and ill-informed opinions about the capabilities of Type 1 diabetics. Type 1 diabetics have shown time and again that we are capable of accomplishing anything if given the opportunity.”
In this lawsuit, Mr. Taylor seeks instatement in the position of Senior Legal Advisor in the Rule of Law program at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, lost wages and other benefits, as well as damages for the emotional distress that he has suffered as a result of the actions of the State Department and the Department of Justice.