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.”

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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