From the office cubicle to factory assembly lines, accommodating bigger workers has become a constant consideration for the country’s employers.
It’s not just the health of workers that has employers worried. Studies estimate compensating for obesity costs them upward of $70 billion a year.
The commission secured consent decrees in both cases. EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum said in an interview last month with Bloomberg News that these decrees provided monetary relief for the charging parties and imposed training and reporting obligations on the companies at issue. In addition, she said, prior to settlement in the Resources for Human Development case, the district court released an opinion finding that severe obesity is an impairment within the meaning of the ADA and that the plaintiff could be viewed as a person with a disability under the ADA Amendments Act.
“The AMA's official recognition will certainly not hurt plaintiffs,” Feldblum said. “But it does not change the (already in place) basic legal framework.” Under that “framework,” in order to qualify as a disability under the ADA, a physical or mental impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities or major bodily functions. “That was the standard plaintiffs had to meet before the AMA recognition and it is the standard they will need to meet after it,” she said.