Newsflash: Obesity a disability?

obesity-workWhat do we already know?

In our August 2014 Newsletter Case update (1): Obesity a disability? we updated you on the opinion of Advocate General Jääskinen in FOA, acting on behalf of Karsten Kaltoft v Kommunernes Landsforening, acting on behalf of the Municipality of Billund. The Advocate General decided EU law does not include a general principle prohibiting employers from discriminating on grounds of obesity. However, severe obesity can be a disability under EU law if it hinders full and effective participation in professional life.

What’s new?

The ECJ has agreed with the above decision of Advocate General Jääskinen that there is no general principle of EU law prohibiting discrimination on grounds of obesity, but that, severely overweight workers may qualify for protection under the relevant disability discrimination provisions across Europe. However, the Court did not go as far as the Advocate General and stopped short of stating that a specific BMI (body mass index) would be adopted as the cut-off point.   Whether or not an employee’s weight is so significant that he might be disabled will therefore need to be considered on a case by case basis.

We will explore this case and its impact in more detail in our January Newsletter.