Obesity is a disability says UK tribunal

Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer,  Novalex Solicitors

There has been a lot in the press in the last few weeks about the European Court of Justice’s decision in the Danish child-minder case, in which it concluded that obesity could potentially be a disability that is protected from discrimination.

This has now been considered by a UK tribunal in Northern Ireland for the first time and they have found a claimant to be disabled due to his obesity. In this case the claimant resigned following a series of comments that colleagues had made to him about his weight and he succeeded in his claim of harassment because of his disability.

Whilst this may be the way of things to come in the future it is worth noting that being obese is not currently enough to qualify as a disability. The obesity must have caused some long term impairment in order to qualify.

In the Northern Ireland case the claimant suffered from gout, sleep apnoea and had difficulty in walking without crutches and it was these impairments that enabled his obesity to be labelled as a disability.

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