Discrimination against an employee because of obesity may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And this is true regardless of whether the obesity is caused by an underlying physical disorder.
In a recent case, a Louisiana woman who worked at a drug treatment facility claimed her employer fired her after eight years because of her severe obesity. She maintained that while her condition constituted a disability, it did not prevent her from doing her job.
According to the employee, she was really fired based on stereotypes and prejudices against overweight people.
The employer settled the case with the EEOC by agreeing to pay a significant sum in damages and to provide annual training on federal disability law.
In a public statement, the EEOC emphasized that obese people who can still do the job enjoy the same ADA protection as any other disabled person, and criticized the “wrongheaded idea” that they’re at fault for their condition.