The Legal and Managerial Challenge of Obesity as a Disability: Evidence from the Federal Courts

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mark Bradbury Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of MPA Program (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: The Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit discrimination against applicants and employees with disabilities. Following the elements of a prima facie claim of discrimination, this legal brief explores the conditions under which obesity has been deemed a disability. Although obesity is not generally considered a disabling impairment, plaintiffs have successfully brought obesity-related claims based on a rarely implicated definition of disability. The so-called regarded as definition protects those who are not substantially limited by any condition but are subjected to discrimination based on the perception that they are limited by a physical or mental impairment. Although employers have faired well in such obesity-related discrimination claims, a review of federal case law suggests that public human-resource managers are advised to adopt a strategy that reduces the likelihood of obesity-related discrimination, as it is more desirable to avoid potentially litigious behavior than to emerge victorious in court.

Additional Information

Bradbury, M. D. (2007) The legal and managerial challenge of obesity as a disability: Evidence from the federal courts. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 27(1): 79-90. (Mar 2007), pp. 79-90. Published by Sage (ISSN: 0734-371X). DOI:10.1177/0734371X06291814
Language: English
Date: 2007

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