Seventh Circuit: Obesity is a Disability Under the ADA Under Limited Circumstances


All Employers with IL, IN, and WI Employees


June 12, 2019


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In Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal stated that obesity would only be considered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) if the obesity is caused by a physiological disorder or condition.  This decision aligns the Seventh Circuit with the Second, Sixth, and Eighth Circuit courts.

Generally, employers covered by the ADA are required to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations that will allow the disabled person to perform the essential function of their job.  Richardson provides employers with guidance on how the ADA applies to obesity.  If an obese individual’s condition prevents them from performing essential job duties, or threatens the safety of others, employers may still need to engage in the interactive process to determine if the individual’s condition qualifies under the ADA or other state or local laws.

Action Items

  1. Review interactive process procedures for consistency with this ruling.
  2. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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