Is obesity a disability under EU employment law?

Maybe said the European Court of Justice in FOA (Kaltoft) v Billund). However, discrimination on the grounds of obesity is not itself unlawful.

Mr Kaltoft was a clinically obese child-minder for a local council in Denmark. He was dismissed due to redundancy and alleged that obesity was part of the reason why, so he brought a claim. A number of questions were determined by the ECJ and in particular, is obesity a disability under EU Directive 2000/78/EC (the general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation).

The ECJ held that in the event that “under given circumstances, ‘obesity’ results in a physical, mental or psychological impairment that affects how they perform the role and it has a long term effect, then it could be a disability. The origin of the disability, or contribution to it, they deemed were irrelevant. They also stated, as expected, that it is a matter for national courts (e.g. employment tribunals) to determine whether the conditions required for obesity to be a disability are met.     18 December 2014

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