Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Morbid obesity may amount to a ‘disability’

By Connie Cliff

Does the fact that a person who is obese mean they are, or could be, ‘disabled’ for the purposes of the Equal Treatment Directive implemented in the UK under the Equality Act 2010? If their obesity affects their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, should they be protected from discrimination because they are overweight?

On 17 July 2014, the advocate-general in the Danish reference of Kaltoft advises:

‘While there is no general principle of EU law prohibiting discrimination on grounds of obesity in its own right, morbid obesity may come within the meaning of “disability” if it is of such a degree as to hinder full participation in professional life on an equal footing with other employees.’ …

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