Employer Settles Disability Discrimination Case Based on Obesity
A settlement has been reached in a law suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a military vehicle manufacturing company. The EEOC alleged that the company fired an employee for being morbidly obese.
The EEOC asserted that morbid obesity is protected by the disability discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects employees from being fired based on prejudice and perceptions regarding their disability, so long as that employee can perform essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation. According to the 2008 amendments to the ADA a person is disabled when they are substantially limited in one or more major life activities. The EEOC argued that the employee’s extreme weight has had a significant impact on the major life activities in which he has had the ability to participate. He weighed 700 pounds at the time he was fired.
The EEOC further argued that even if the court should hold that obesity is not a disability within the meaning of the ADA, the company regarded the employee as disabled when they made the decision to fire him.
According to the EEOC the employee’s weight did not interfere with the essential functions of his position as a material handler. Further the company did not discuss the possibility of reasonable accommodation before firing the employee.
The company has agreed to pay the employee $55,000 and provide him with outplacement services to assist with the employee’s job search. Additionally the company has agreed to provide training on equal employment opportunity compliance, disability discrimination law, and responsibilities regarding reasonable accommodation.
If you or a loved one feels they have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, please notify Khorrami, LLP for a confidential evaluation of your rights.