EEOC Confirms: Morbid Obesity is a Disability under the ADA

On July 24, 2012, in a press release detailing the settlement of a disability discrimination suit brought by the EEOC against BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems, a senior EEOC attorney stated unequivocally that the ADA “protects morbidly obese employees and applicants from being subjected to discrimination because of their obesity.”  The EEOC attorney explained:  “So  long as an employee can perform the essential job duties of a position, with or without reasonable accommodation, the employee should be allowed to work on the  same basis as any non-obese employee.  Employers  cannot fire disabled employees based on perceptions and prejudice.” http://www.eeoc.gov//eeoc/newsroom/release/7-24-12c.cfm.

This statement clarifies that, as far as the EEOC is concerned, obesity, by itself, i.e., without some additional underlying physiological disorder, may constitute an ADA-recognized disability.

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