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Is weight discrimination headed toward inclusion under the ADA?

Some of our Colorado readers may not know, but there is an interesting debate emerging between employers and employees. Some employers have taken the unusual step of excluding potential employees during a job search based on their weight. Some have even gone to the extent of publicly stating that they will no longer higher applicants who have a body mass index exceeding their delineated threshold. This has triggered some to suggest that the practice is a new kind of discrimination: "weight discrimination."

There are many people in America who are battling weight issues. According to one report detailing the latest findings from the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 37 percent of adults in America are considered obese. The problem for anyone suffering from this type of discrimination is that, at the present time, there is no law prohibiting employers from this practice.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and potential employees who suffer from a disability. However, this federal law does not include weight among the potential disabilities an employer might discriminate against, this may be changing though. One federal circuit court has ruled in favor of classifying morbid obesity as a disability under federal law, and other courts have allowed the question to go to a jury for determination.

There can be no denying that the percentage of Americans who are classified as overweight, obese or morbidly obese is on the rise. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees or potential employees for many reasons, including disabilities, race, nationality or religion. For any Colorado resident who believes they may have been the victim of so-called "weight discrimination," the winds of change may lead to that person pursuing what could ultimately be a successful lawsuit.

Source: 9news.com, "Hospital's weight policy raising questions," Jack Maher, Sept. 3, 2012

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