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when is obesity considered a disability?

19 December 2014

In the case of Kaltoft v Municipality of Billund, the European Court of Justice has decided that there are certain circumstances where it may be possible for an employee to show that they are disabled as a result of their obesity and will therefore be protected against disability discrimination. This is where the obesity is long-term and “hinder[s] the full and effective participation of that person in professional life”.

This is likely to only apply to those employees who are severely obese (Mr Kaltoft had a BMI of 54 and was classified as WHO class III). However, where an employee is considered a disabled person as a result of their obesity, employers may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments as a result.

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