The European Court of Justice ruled recently that severely overweight employees can be considered disabled, and therefore protected against discrimination under various labor laws governing the European Union. In the case at issue, Karsten Kaltoft, a 350-pound childcare worker, claimed she had been unfairly fired because of her obesity.
Slow Europeans. American courts have been trying to get their hands around this weighty issue since the 1980s. The big bottom line: in the U.S. morbid obesity and the perception of disability due to obesity can be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and similar state laws.
Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and founding partner of HomansPeck LLC. For more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.