WILL OBESITY BE CONSIDERED A DISABILITY UNDER THE ADA?
Should EEOC Consider Obesity a Disability?
Earlier this year, the EEOC pursued a charge under the ADA earlier for an employee who weighed 680 pounds, claiming he was fired because he was “morbidly obese.” The claim was settled prior to trial, so we received no guidance on how a court might rule on the issue.
Have any Private Lawsuits Been Filed Claiming Obesity as a Disability?
A lawsuit has now been filed in Missouri by an employee claiming he was fired because of his weight, making the same allegations of ADA violations, based on “severe obesity” being a disability. He alleges his severe obesity falls within the physical impairment definition of the ADA, and that he was considered by his employer as substantially limited in walking, which is a major life activity. He says that, despite his obesity, he was able to perform the essential functions of his job, with or without accommodation.
HR Issues with Handling Obese Employees
The result of this case may provide employers new guidance on how obese employees must be dealt with under the ADA. I can see additional issues over wellness programs that adversely impact seriously obese employees, HIPAA issues about inquiries relating to obesity, and a Pandora’s box of other issues.
We will watch and see what develops!
To learn more about Adair and her practice visit her profile page and her Labor & Employment Law page.
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