This article was published on July 18th, 2014
Discrimination law in the UK could expand to include obesity. Current equality laws do not protect people who are discriminated against because of their size or weight. But this could change if the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decides in favour of a Danish childminder who says he was sacked for being too fat.
The CJEU is currently sizing up the case of Mr Kaltoft, who is said to weigh 160kg (about 25 stone). He claims that his employer discriminated against him when it dismissed him, and that obesity should be a protected characteristic under equality law.
In anticipation of the outcome, newspapers have been full of commentary on the merits or otherwise of obesity entering the disability arena. A decision in Mr Kaltoft’s favour would have huge implications for employers in Britain, regularly dubbed the obesity capital of Europe. Bigger, more robust office chairs. Wider car parking spaces, closer to work. Duties which don’t include walking. These are just some of the potential adjustments that might need to put in place in future if employers are to avoid falling foul of obesity discrimination laws.
It’s a moot point for now. And in fact, some commentators think the chances of the law changing are pretty slim.