ADA Claim for Obesity Fails When Nondiscriminatory Reasons for Termination Exist

December 05, 2019 | From HRCalifornia Extra

by Michelle Galbraith, J.D.; HR Adviser, CalChamber

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of those disabilities. While a number of recent lawsuits have sought to expand the definition of “disability” to include obesity, courts thus far have only supported ADA protection for obesity if the plaintiffs have an underlying physiological cause that itself constitutes a disability.

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has made another obesity- and disability-related clarification. In an obese employee’s claim of ADA discrimination, the court determined that because his employer had a nondiscriminatory justification for termination, the employee’s obesity discrimination claims were irrelevant (Valtierra v. Medtronic, Inc., 934 F.3d 1089 (2019)).

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