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‘Severe obesity can be a disability’ - A-G Jaaskinen

The Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has issued a preliminary ruling on a case involving a severely obese Danish childminder who was dismissed from his employment allegedly because of his obesity. 

The ECJ has been asked to rule on whether EU law forbade discrimination on the grounds of obesity and whether obesity could be considered a disability.  The Advocate-General, who advises the ECJ, found that there is no stand-alone prohibition on discrimination on grounds of obesity in EU law.  However, he concluded that very severe obesity (BMI of more than 40) could be classified as a disability if it ‘……plainly hinders participation in professional life.’

His opinion will now be considered by the ECJ before a final ruling is handed down. 

If the ECJ follows his opinion then it could mean that employers will have to make reasonable efforts to accommodate severely obese employees in the work place.  For more information on the type of support employers may be expected to provide please click here.