Monday, December 22, 2014

Obesity as a Disability: A Comparative Look

As we all know, there has over the last few decades been substantial controversy in this country as to whether obesity is an impairment (or even a disability) for purposes of protection under the Rehabilition Act or the ADA.  In an interesting new decision from the European Court of Justice, the court ruled that obesity can be a disability requiring workplace accommodations.  From the U.S. News & World Report:

"The European Court of Justice, considering a Denmark case involving a 350-pound child-care worker who says he was fired because of his obesity, ruled that employers must make accommodations if it is determined that someone’s weight is, indeed, interfering with the ability to do his or her job. While the court did not deem obesity as a disability under the law, it said such severely overweight workers could be called disabled if their condition prevents a “full and effective participation in professional life.”"

This case provides an interesting comparative look at the issue.  It is doubtful, however, whether such a case will have any impact (or persuasive value) on U.S. Law.

-- Joe Seiner

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