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Total Articles: 14

Obesity and The ADA

Is obesity a disability?

Is Santa Disabled? Obesity, The ADAAA, and The Most Famous Driver Of All

The most famous reindeer of all may be Rudolph, but St. Nick has the lock on being the most famous driver in the entire transportation industry.

Supreme Court Ends Obese Applicant’s ADA Claim

The nation’s highest Court began its new term on Monday, October 3, 2016 by, among other things, declining to review the Eighth Circuit’s ruling that an obese applicant did not have an actual or “regarded as” disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Is Obesity a "Disability" Under the ADA? Not Without Physical Impairment, Eighth Circuit Rules

Obesity does not meet the definition of a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for either the discrimination or “regarded as” provisions of the statute, a panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held, unless it is also a “physical impairment,” which means that it must be a “physiological disorder or condition . . . affecting one or more major body systems.” As a result, in Morriss v. BNSF Railway Co., the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the railroad.

Obesity Alone as a Disability? Slim Chance, Says Eighth Circuit

A memorable scene from the dark comedy “In Bruges” features a clash between a disgraced Irish assassin, played by Colin Farrell, and three portly American tourists after Farrell’s character warns them not to climb the narrow stairway to the belfry of Bruges’ iconic medieval tower. As the Americans nonetheless proceed toward the tower, he dismissively shrugs, uttering “it’s Americans, isn’t it?”

Is Obesity a Disability?

A case currently pending before the Eighth Circuit will address whether ADA protections should extend to obese workers. With more than 2/3 of the US adult population considered overweight, recognition of obesity as a disability under the ADA – defined as physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities – will result in accommodations and protections in unprecedented numbers.

Obesity as a Disability Under the ADA: Is it More Likely Now Than Before?

In July, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a new policy that officially labels obesity as a disease, “requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention.” According to the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, a “disease” is defined as having the following criteria: 1) an impairment of the normal functioning of some aspect of the body; 2) characteristic signs or symptoms; and 3) harm or morbidity.

Legal Alert: Obesity Is A Disease, But Is It a Disability?

Executive Summary: The American Medical Association's (AMA's) declaration that obesity is a disease could open the door to a new wave of lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How to Weigh in Obesity in Employment Decisions

Imagine you are the Hiring Manager for a distribution warehouse and have just begun interviewing applicants for a materials handler position. The first candidate enters the room, standing at a height of 5'4," weighing more than 500 pounds. You continue the interview and learn that his qualifications are quite notable, but you can't help but consider how his weight may possibly affect his work performance. You anticipate that his obesity might put him at a greater risk of developing serious illnesses that may lead to absenteeism. You also fear that accommodations may be required for him to use the fork lift and other machinery, and you worry he may pose a safety threat if he were unable to move quickly enough to evacuate in the event of an emergency.

Weighing The Risks Of Not Hiring Obese Applicants

While most supervisors intuitively recognize and grasp some fundamentals of non-discrimination laws, other questions are becoming increasingly complicated, even for seasoned human resources professionals. Setting aside the complexity of issues like "admissible evidence" or "disparate impact," it's easy to understand that employment decisions should not and cannot be based upon factors such as race, national origin, gender, age, pregnancy, or disability. Federal and state laws make this abundantly clear. On the other hand, emerging issues, some of which are arguably more related to lifestyle choices than immutable characteristics, continue to raise complicated questions.

Are Obese Employees The Next Protected Class?

A Texas hospital is under fire from an activist group because of a hiring policy that precludes obese applicants from seeking employment at the facility. The Citizens’ Medical Center in Victoria, Texas, requires that applicants have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35 – a requirement that prevents obese applicants from being considered for employment. The hospital’s hiring policy states that employees should “fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional.” Obese individuals do not meet the image of a healthcare professional that the hospital believes its employees should convey and accordingly, are not eligible for hire.

Body Mass Index As a Hiring Criteria

Hat tip to (probably my favorite blog title in our corner of the world) the Evil HR Lady for catching news from my own back yard, see the original news article, Victoria Hospital Won't Hire Very Obese Workers, as Victoria is just a couple of hours down the road from me, but also a brilliant commentary on the policy itself.

EEOC Files Lawsuit Claiming Obesity Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act, alleging that Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD) illegally fired an employee because of her obesity. The lawsuit is pending in federal district court in Louisiana.

Sixth Circuit Rejects Dockworkers ADA Claim (pdf).

Finds workers obesity is not a protected "impairment".
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