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Obese employee was disabled under discrimination law

28 March 2013 #Employment

In Walker v Sita Information Networking Computing Ltd UKEAT/0097/12 is was held that an obese claimant was disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. However they also suffered from a number of physical and mental conditions. It was ruled that the employment judge had wrongly focused on the fact that he could not identify a direct cause for the claimant`s impairments. It was stated that he should instead have focused on the effect of those impairments.

There is no statutory definition of “impairment” and which should therefore be given its natural meaning. The statutory guidance on disability states “It not necessary to consider how an impairment is caused, even if the cause is a consequence of a condition which is excluded. What it is important to consider the effect of an impairment, not its cause."

Employers should note that obesity in itself is not an impairment for disability discrimination purposes. However, obesity might make it more likely that a claimant has impairments within the meaning of the legislation.

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