Obesity Is a Disability, Says EEOC

EEOC now claims obesity is a disability under ADAAA. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) now claims obesity is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Until now, the courts have routinely rejected general obesity as a “disability” under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. Cases have required one to show some different underlying medical condition that is a disability and that causes obesity as a “symptom.” Now the EEOC has filed suit, claiming that a company discriminatorily fired an employee because of obesity. The EEOC claims that ever since President George W. Bush authorized the ADA Amendments Act in 2008, the law has a much lower threshold for what constitutes a disability. The EEOC claims that basic obesity, without any other underlying condition, sufficiently impacts the life activities of bending, walking, digestion, cell growth, etc., to qualify as a disability or perceived disability. EEOC v. Resources for Human Development (E.D. LA.2010).


Too much reference information generates ADA suit. All information about employees’ conditions, diagnosis and use of FMLA or other sick leave is confidential. It is not to be shared with anyone except under the tight framework of the ADA, FMLA, HIPAA and other privacy laws. In EEOC v. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (E.D. Wis., 2010), it is alleged that the company revealed medical information about a former temporary employee’s migraine condition as part of giving references. This prevented the person from obtaining other jobs. The EEOC has sued on behalf of the former employee, seeking back pay for the jobs he would have obtained if not for the illegal information. The suit also seeks punitive damages from the company’s alleged “reckless indifference” to the confidentiality requirements.

This case is yet another reminder about the reference process. An employer has great latitude to provide honest and legal information. However, this should be a controlled function. All managers should have at least rudimentary training in the do’s and don’ts. No reference should be given until it is cleared by a manager who has more in-depth knowledge of the legal parameters of the process. [For more information, request the article Use and Abuse of References by Atty. Robert Gregg, Boardman Law Firm, or see boardmanlawfirm.com (reading room)].

Disabled employee sues disability rights organization. In Wega v. Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (2nd Cir., 2010), an employee who had had a stroke was discharged. He sued, claiming disability discrimination and failure to accommodate. The court found for the employer. The evidence showed the stroke created mental and physical impairments that substantially limited his job performance. The employer had granted accommodations of extra time to complete assignments and reduced responsibilities. The employee was not meeting the requirements of the job and could show no other accommodations that were likely to enable him to adequately perform the job.

Bob Gregg, partner in Boardman Law Firm, shares his roundup of diversity-related legal issues. He can be reached at rgregg@boardmanlawfirm.com.

Latest News

Toyota Research Institute and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab Study How to Improve Automotive Safety

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. Inspired by the Skills of Professional Drift Drivers, Research Seeks to Combine the Technology of Vehicle Automation with Artificial Intelligence Algorithms What if every driver who ran into trouble had the instinctive reflexes of a professional race car driver and the calculated foresight of a supercomputer…

Tribal elder

Loss of Tribal Elders Due to COVID-19 Decimating Indigenous Populations; Colorado Revamps Common-Law Marriage Requirements, Making Them More Friendly for LGBTQ Couples; and More

Loss of tribal elders due to COVID-19 decimating Indigenous populations. The Muscogee, Navajo, Blackfeet Nation, White Mountain Apache and Choctaw tribes are among the many communities of Indigenous people suffering irreparable losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Times reporter Jack Healy has reported. Already impacted by infection rates…

Justice for George Floyd

Officer Who Pressed Knee Into George Floyd’s Neck to Stand Trial Alone; Judge Halts Federal Execution of Lisa Montgomery, Only Woman on Death Row

Officer who pressed knee into George Floyd’s neck to stand trial alone in March. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — the man who can be seen on video pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for an excruciating 8 minutes and 46 seconds — will now stand trial alone,…

BASF Starts Global Registration for New and Environmentally Friendly Insecticide Active Ingredient

Originally published on BASF.com. BASF ranked No. 14 on The 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Regulatory dossiers for Axalion™insecticide submitted in Australia and Korea Active ingredient with novel mode of action and high compatibility with beneficial insects, including pollinators First sales for Axalion-based products expected by 2023…

Trump cancelled for insurrection attempt

Trump Isn’t Just Fired After Attempted Insurrection — He’s Cancelled; Fears Mount Over Multiple Potential D.C. Superspreader Events; and More

Trump isn’t just fired after attempted insurrection — he’s canceled. The legal and ego-shattering ramifications of inciting a riot and attempting to stage a coup on the Capitol Building continue to pile up for lame duck President Donald Trump. Consider that in less than a week following his criminal actions,…

KPMG: Race and Accountability in the Boardroom

Originally published on KPMG.us by Stephen L. Brown Senior Advisor, Board Leadership Center. KPMG ranked No. 12 on The 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Protests and social unrest following the death of George Floyd and others, along with the detrimental effects of COVID-19 and the economic downturn…

Southern Company Becomes the First Large Cap Utility in the U.S. to Publish a Sustainable Financing Framework

Allows Southern Company and its subsidiaries to issue Sustainable Financing Instruments contributing to a sustainable economy Originally published on southerncompany.com. Southern Company has published a Sustainable Financing Framework (“Framework”), making it the first large cap utility holding company in the United States to do so. The Framework, published on January 4, 2021, allows…