Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

456px-Court_of_Justice_of_the_European_Union_emblem.svgThe European Court of Justice has today ruled that obesity may be defied as a disability for the purposes of EU law but only if the obesity meets certain qualifications.

In the case of Kaltoft v Municipality of Billund (C-354/13) the Advocate General gave the legal opinion that obesity may amount to a disability for the purposes of the EU Equal Treatment Directive (No.2000/78) but only if the obesity is “severe”. Severe in this context was defined by the Advocate General as including obese persons with a Body Mass Index (“BMI”) of over 40 which would hinder the individual’s participation in professional life to such an extent that it amounts to a disability.

In this case Mr Kaltoft, who is 5 foot 7 inches in height and weighs 160kg (giving him a BMI of 54), brought a claim against the Municipality of Billund in Denmark after his employment as a childminder was terminated because of his disability. Mr Kaltoft subsequently brought a claim for disability discrimination against the Municipality of Billund, claiming that his obesity constituted a disability and that he had been discriminated against because of this. The Danish courts referred the claim to the European Courts of Justice and asked whether obesity is a form of “disability” and whether obesity falls within a general prohibition in EU law covering all forms of discrimination in the labour market.

The Advocate General rejected the submission that obesity was protected per se as a “protected characteristic” under EU law but accepted that “severe” obesity may constitute a disability under the Equal Treatment Directive. “Mere” obesity (a BMI of 40 or under) would therefore not be sufficient to fulfil the criteria.

This case clearly has implications for UK employment law in that certain categories of obesity (“severe” obesity) may now be protected as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Employers should therefore be careful to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate workers with “severe” obesity and it is important that employers do not intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against workers because of, or for a reason related to, their obesity.

There is likely to be significant litigation in obesity discrimination cases as to whether the person’s obesity is “severe” enough to constitute a disability and, further, whether it sufficiently hinders the individual’s participation in private life such as to amount to a disability.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the news: “This opinion of the Advocate General is extremely welcome as it addresses a ‘grey area’ in the law relating to disability discrimination. It’s doubtful that there will be a ‘flood’ of claims relating to obesity discrimination from now but it will be interesting to see how the case law develops.”

A transcript of the case can be found here: http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/EUECJ/2014/C35413_O.html

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

204 Reviews

Anonymous

Excellent advice and customer service.

Posted 1 month ago

Aneet G

I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

Posted 1 month ago

Fern M

Very efficient and friendly

Posted 1 month ago

Neville S

A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Daniel T

Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

Posted 1 month ago

Paul T

Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

Posted 1 month ago

Marina E

Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

Posted 1 month ago

Rosa B

Fabulous service all round.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

Posted 1 month ago

Alkhas K

Excellent service.

Posted 1 month ago

Mathias G

Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

Posted 2 months ago

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Posted 3 months ago

submit

I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 3 months ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 3 months ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 3 months ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 3 months ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 3 months ago

Marie D

very good service all digitalised

Posted 3 months ago