“Employers can give a sigh of relief – or can they? We have clear confirmation now … that obesity itself is not a protected characteristic.”
Yesterday we published a post Alert about the landmark decision which came down yesterday from the European Court of Justice, with the Court holding that “obese people can be considered as disabled, but stopped short of saying that obesity was a condition that needed specific protection under European anti-discrimination laws.”
Our takeaway yesterday was something short of decisive: “Let’s take a few days to try and absorb and understand this landmark ruling and it’s impact on US law.”
We now have an instantaneous analysis from employment law experts in the UK — at least about the impact on UK law.
The bolded quote above begins a very informative piece about the decision and its impact by veteran UK employment lawyers Rachel Crasnow and Sarah Fraser Butlin, published by Michael Rubenstein Publishing.
Although obesity may not be a protected characteristic, attorneys Crasnow and Fraser Butlin say nonetheless that “the impairments which result from an overweight employee could give rise to a disability. In a sense that’s not a very surprising outcome: obesity that means the person cannot fully participate in professional life makes sense as constituting a disability. The interesting bit of the judgment relates to whether a person can do something to ameliorate the effects of the impairment.”
We are punting a little bit, but perhaps this piece is a good starting point for our discussion of US law.