The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that in some circumstances obesity can amount to a disability.
The decision is binding on Member States, including the UK, and now means employers here need to give serious consideration to their treatment of obese employees and, in particular, their duty to make reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate their disadvantages. This is likely to have particular relevance in labour intensive roles, requiring full mobility of employees.
Until now, the position in UK law was that medical problems arising out of obesity could fall under the definition of a disability, but obesity itself was not accepted as a disability in its own right. Employers were therefore free from associated duties, and in particular the duty to make reasonable adjustments.