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Tag Archive

Obesity Discrimination; Is This Already Covered By The Equality Act?

The 2016 Budget confirmed the Government would introduce the Sugar Tax, in a bid to reduce levels of childhood obesity within the UK.  Taxes on ‘fatty foods’ have on the cards for some time but there were mixed reactions.  Some thought the tax punished poorer families, some stated it didn’t go far enough, whilst others praised the idea that the money raised from the tax would go to fund school sports.

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Obesity can be a disability under EU law

Following the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice in FOA (Kaltoft) v Billund, obesity can potentially be considered as being a disability under EU law, however obesity itself is not deemed to be a protected characteristic.

In summary, Mr Kaltoft was a Danish child minder who was dismissed by his local city council in 2010 by way of redundancy. However he alleged that it was his obesity that brought about his redundancy dismissal. For clarity on the issue, four questions were put forward by the Denmark District Court to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling.  

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Does obesity amount to a disability?

For those of you who avidly follow our employment law blogs may recall last August the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that obesity itself would not amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (“EQA”); however physical ailments which resulted from obesity could (Walker v Sita Information Networking Computing Ltd).

Clearly where obesity amounts to a disability this gives rise to the duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments which includes providing bigger chairs and desks and perhaps even a flexible working pattern.

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Obesity disability discrimination: cause or effect?

With recent Government statistics claiming that 60% of the UK’s adult population are overweight or obese, it is more important than ever for employers to understand the relationship between this condition and their obligations under disability discrimination law.

In the recent Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) case of Walker v Sita Information Networking Computing Ltd the EAT determined that it was the effect and not the cause of the obesity condition that should be considered when assessing whether or not a claimant is disabled for the purpose of bringing a claim under disability legislation.

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