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Discrimination based on employee's weight could lead to lawsuits

Everyday throughout the state Colorado employees are concerned with discrimination based on a variety of factors. Some may believe that their employer has discriminated against them based on race or gender, while others have to endure the indignity of sexual harassment. All of these discriminatory behaviors are violations of state and federal law. Perhaps most unfortunate, however, is when an employer discriminates against an employee or potential employee based on a disability. When that occurs, the person who has suffered from the discriminatory act may have a legal option under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One type of disability in particular is beginning to catch a lot of attention: obesity. As detailed in a recent report, the American Medical Association only just a few months ago officially declared that obesity should be categorized as a disease. As such, an employee who is diagnosed as obese should be under the protection of the ADA, right?

The answer may not be so simple, although perhaps it should be. Employees suffering from obesity - as a diagnosed disease - should not be treated any differently than another employee with a different type of disability, like, say, partial paralysis. Both employees, under the ADA, should be able to expect reasonable accommodations from their employers.

However, just like other forms of discrimination, a claim of "weight discrimination" would need to be substantiated by direct evidence. This can be the hard part of any case. Determining what actions could be considered evidence of discrimination is not an easy task. That is why understanding the rights afforded by the ADA can be crucial for Colorado employees who suffer from a disability.

Source: Aol Jobs, "7 Ways to Prove Weight Discrimination," Donna Ballman, Oct. 14, 2013

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