European Court rules obesity can be a disability

The European Court of Justice, the highest court of the EU, has ruled that obesity can constitute a disability – in some circumstances, where it could hinder ‘full and effective participation’ at work.

The court’s ruling comes in the case of a Danish child minder, 25 stone Karsten Kaltoft who claimed he had been sacked because he was too fat. His employers say they made him redundant when the number of children in their care fell.

Although the judges found that obesity itself is not a disability, they also found that if a person suffered a long-term impairment because they were obese, then they would be protected by disability discrimination. The ruling is binding across the whole of the EU.

Following the ruling, the courts in Denmark will now have to assess Mr Kaltoft's weight to see if his case can be classed as a disability.

If you’d like more information on disability and equality at work, please contact Vaishali Thakerar, Ashley Hunt or Carrie-Anne Randall at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

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