click to view mobile Navigation
You are here > Hewett's Legal Corner - July 2014 #15

Hewett's Legal Corner - July 2014 #15


 
 

               
 

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently provided his opinion on obesity discrimination. Whilst he concluded that there is no general principle of EU law prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of obesity, sever or morbid obesity may fall within the definition of “disability” if it hinders a worker from full and effective participation in their professional life.                                                                               

This opinion is not binding at present but in most cases, the Advocate General’s opinion is followed.  Employers should therefore start thinking about what implications this opinion may have on them in the near future.

Case  - Kaltoft v The Municipality of Billund
The Advocate General’s opinion has been delivered as a result of a recent case in Denmark whereby a child-minder called Mr Kaltoft was dismissed in November 2010 after 15 years of continuous service.  

Mr Kaltoft was dismissed as a result of a decline in the number of children requiring care.  During the dismissal hearing, Mr Kaltoft’s obesity had been discussed and his employer. Mr Kaltoft argued that his employer failed to explain why he had been selected for dismissal and complained that he had been dismissed because he was deemed unable to perform his duties due to his size.  Mr Kaltoft had a BMI of 54 (and was therefore considered to be morbidly obese according to the WHO rankings). 

Mr Kaltoft pursued discrimination proceedings in a Danish Court alleging that he had been dismissed because of his obesity.  This case was then referred to the Advocate General to establish whether obesity amounts to a disability under the Equal Treatment Directive.  The Advocate General decided that severe or morbid obesity might fall within the definition of ‘disability’ if it hinders a worker from full and effective participation in their professional life on a legal basis with others workers.  

The ECJ will now consider this case in detail and it will be for the national court to determine whether Mr Kaltoft’s obesity amounts to a disability.

What is obesity?
Obesity is not the same as being overweight.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks obesity by reference to Body Mass Index.  At present, those with any Body Mass Index in excess of 40 are classed as extremely or morbidly obese.  

Obesity rates in the UK are the highest in Europe with over 20% of the UK population being considered obese.

Implications for employers.
The Advocate General’s opinion could have significant implications for employers. 
As most employers are aware, the Equality Act 2010 provides that a person has a disability for discrimination purposes if they have a ‘physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial long-term adverse effect on the individual’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities’.  

If obesity does qualify as a disability then employers will of course be obliged to make reasonable adjustments for their continued employment.  This may include:-

•    Providing bigger chairs and desks;  
•    Ensuring that car parking spaces are available near to the entrance of premises;
•    Varying duties so that they include less mobility.  

Further, employers would also have to ensure that they do not discriminate against any job applicants when conducting interviews to ensure that they are not discriminating against candidates on the basis of their shape or size.  

Anyone who wishes to seek advice on any of the issues herein or if you have any queries pertaining to the above, please contact Sally Morris buy email to sally.morris@mfgsolicitors.com or by telephone on 01905 73403201905 734032





< Go Back

LATEST NEWS


Hewett's Support Worcester Full & Half Marathon 2018
We are pleased to announce that Hewett Recruitment will be supporting St Richards Hospice and sponsoring the Worcester Full and Half Marathon 2018 as it enters its seventh year.
04/01/2018 10:38:41
Read More >>

HR Professionals Conference 2017 - Huge Success
With over 100 delegates, this years' HR Conference hosted by Hewett Recruitment and the HW Chamber of Commerce is now the largest HR Conference in Worcestershire.
27/11/2017 16:55:25
Read More >>

Hewett’s once again pledge their support to local Foodbanks
Hewett Recruitment have once again pledged their full support this Christmas with a Foodbank collection initiative aimed at helping the local communities of Worcestershire who have fallen on hard times.
18/10/2017 10:55:56
Read More >>

Hope & Glory Dinner - 29th November 2017
Spectacular Black-Tie 'Proms' Celebration in Bewdley... Flag waving and singing to a 20-piece orchestra - three course dinner
22/09/2017 12:20:40
Read More >>

Hewett’s ‘values’ recognised at staff awards
Hewett’s Annual Family Fun Day and Company Awards took place at the West Midlands Safari Park in July.
31/07/2017 15:50:48
Read More >>

LATEST BLOG


Christmas Legal E-Bulletin - Preparing Your Business for 2018
In the last Employment Law E-Bulletin of 2017, learn how to prepare your business for the new year ahead and the recent employment law developments that should be considered.
18/12/2017 12:50:33
Read More >>

Louises Column - The Warriors Community Foundation
Many of us in business engage and support local causes, to help raise awareness and generate much needed funds for charities and local groups to continue their good work. I'd like to highlight and encourage you to get involved with the great work going on at an exceptional and award winning foundation, The Warriors Community Foundation.
07/12/2017 13:57:01
Read More >>

Legal E-Bulletin - Reimbursement Scheme for Employment Tribunal Fees Announced
Sally Morris, Partner and Head of Employment for mfg Solicitors shares recent declaration about unlawful Employment Tribunal fees and the reimbursement that eligible applicants may be entitled to.
04/12/2017 13:22:02
Read More >>

Louises Column - The Importance of Flexible Working
What to do as a job is the most important life decision that most people will ever have to make. This outranks other life-defining decisions such as where to live, starting a family, or getting married according to a recent survey.
15/11/2017 11:13:09
Read More >>

HR Professionals Conference - Understanding more about the brave new world of jobs!
If you are a business owner, director or HR professional who needs to understand more about what the brave new world of jobs means for skills and business hiring strategies in the future don’t miss the annual HR Professionals Conference.
18/10/2017 11:08:35
Read More >>