FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CR TUESDAY, JULY 28, 1998 (202) 616 2765 TDD (202) 616 1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. School bus drivers in Arizona and North Carolina will no longer face discrimination in hiring or risk being fired just because they have diabetes, under two agreements reached today with the Justice Department. The two out of court agreements settle a series of complaints filed with the Justice Department after school districts in each state were forced to fire diabetic school bus drivers with accident free driving records. Under state law in Arizona and North Carolina, persons with diabetes who use insulin are barred from operating a school bus. The Arizona Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles have enforced the laws, even though they are inconsistent with federal disabilities law. Contrary to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the state laws were applied without regard to whether a person's condition actually prevented them from safely operating a vehicle. "These agreements will fix policies based on a stereotype that people who have diabetes and use insulin are unsafe drivers. That is just not true," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee. "We are committed to protecting the right of individuals with disabilities to be free from unlawful discrimination in the workplace." Under both agreements, the states will stop the practice of automatically barring individuals from operating a school bus on the basis of their diabetes. North Carolina will enact new regulations. Arizona already has enacted such regulations. Consistent with the ADA's requirements, the states will rigorously assess people with diabetes who use insulin on an individual basis to see if the person's diabetes can be controlled and monitored. Drivers who are deemed eligible to operate a school bus also will be subject to stringent requirements designed to ensure continued safety. Under the agreements, the state transportation agencies also will pay a combined amount of $19,000 to compensate the two individuals in Arizona and North Carolina who were victims of the states' discriminatory requirements. For several years, the two individuals had operated school buses for local school districts safely and without any health related incidents. They ultimately were terminated by their school districts based on the requirements. The Yuma, Arizona, Elementary School District No. 1 has agreed with the Justice Department to reinstate one person to her school bus driver position. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the Department's toll free information line at (800) 514 0301 (voice) or (800) 514 0383 (TDD) or access the ADA Home Page on the World Wide Web at [] 98 349 # # #