IS OBESITY A DISABILITY THAT REQUIRES PROTECTION FROM EMPLOYERS?

Is Obesity a Disability that Requires Protection from Employers

Weight discrimination (sometimes referred to as size discrimination) occurs when someone is treated differently because of his or her weight.

The ADA protects employees and applicants with disabilities from discrimination, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

The ADA states that height and weight, within normal parameters, are not disabilities. However, some courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have found that obesity might qualify as a disability, at least in some circumstances:

• If an employee or applicant has an underlying physiological impairment that has resulted in obesity (such as diabetes), the employee may be protected. The employee would have to prove that he or she had a disability as defined by the ADA.

• The EEOC has said that “severe” obesity, defined as a weight that more than twice the norm, is itself an impairment that could be a disability. Again, the employee would have to show that it substantially limited a major life activity or major bodily function.

• If an employer incorrectly perceives an employee as having a disability based on the employee’s obesity, that employee would be protected by the ADA. In other words, even if the employee’s condition didn’t substantially limit a major life activity or prevent the employee from doing the job, the employee is protected from discrimination by an employer who makes these incorrect assumptions based on the employee’s obesity.

David Payab, Esq. from The Law Offices of Payab & Associates can be reached @ (818) 918-5522 or by visiting http://payablaw.com/

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