Yet more media furore over not that much at all really…obesity is the target of today’s hyperbole!
Yes it is true that today the European Court of Justice did rule on the case involving an employee in Denmark who claims he was dismissed from work for being too fat.
They did NOT however as some papers are reporting, find that obesity is now classified as a disability for the purposes of protection from discrimination. It has NOT been added to the list of 9 protected characteristics which are currently Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage & Civil Partnership, Pregnancy & Maternity, Race, Religion & Belief, Sex, and Sexual Orientation.
What the ECJ ruled was that the effects of obesity can potentially be classed as a disability, so for example if the obesity leads to diabetes or to mobility issues, then employees may need to make reasonable adjustments.
To quote: “While no general principle of EU law prohibits, in itself, discrimination on grounds of obesity, that condition falls within the concept of ‘disability’ where, under particular conditions, it hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers.”
Remember that the effects have to be substantial and long term to fall under the definition of a disability. So whilst it does add a new degree of consideration to deciding whether something might constitute a disability or not, this isn’t all that different from the situation we already have in place in the UK so we can’t see what a lot of the fuss is about yet…of course we’ll see how things pan out as more details are released.