Obesity may be a Disability


The Advocate General has given an opinion that severe obesity may amount to a disability for the purposes of the EU Equal Treatment Framework. He has stated that a body mass index of over 40 may hinder a person’s participation in professional life to such an extent that it would be a disability.

The AG thought that only the most significant obesity (level III on the WHO scale) labelled as “severe, extreme or morbid obesity” would amount to a disability.

Of course, it remains to be seen if there is a rash of complaints to the tribunal where overweight people claim that they are suffering a detriment at work because of their weight, but this opinion does remind me of a case some years ago where a fireman was dismissed because he was too fat to do his job properly. It would be interesting to see what reasonable adjustments would be expected in the case of obese employees.