Tort Law

Obesity is a disease, AMA says, aiding weight-related disability claims

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Obesity is a disease, not a condition, the American Medical Association decided this summer.

And that may make it easier for those who are as little as 30 pounds over the recommended body weight for someone of their size to pursue claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Kansas City Star reports.

Although the AMA’s action was intended to affect medical treatment for the obese, “there’s a high probability it will make it easier for an obese employee to argue that he or she is disabled,” said partner Myra Creighton of Fisher & Phillips.

“It may be easier for employees to prove disability discrimination,” Creighton, who represents employers, told the newspaper. “And, if classified as a disease, it will be difficult for employers to argue that any level of obesity is not an impairment.”

Employment experts are now waiting to see whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has recognized “morbid” obesity as a disability, may now further expand its definition.

See also: “Fired for Being Too Fat, Worker Gets $55K Settlement With EEOC’s Help”

Employer Handbook: “Obesity as a workplace disability? One court bucks the trend and says no.”

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