What do we already know?
In our April 2013 Newsletter Disability Discrimination – cause and effect of obesity we updated you on the EAT decision of Walker v Sita Information Networking Computing Ltd. This held that although obesity was not in itself a disability, its symptoms (e.g. breathlessness, high blood pressure) could be if they satisfied the legal definition of a disability. I.e. the focus should be on the effect of the obesity rather than the cause.
The above UK decision has been backed up by 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 available here. 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.
We will explore this case and its impact in more detail in our August Newsletter.