Obesity: the next disability? Large cook sues McDonald’s for bias — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Obesity: the next disability? Large cook sues McDonald’s for bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You’d think wanting your work force to look healthy and in reasonable shape would be good for business, especially if your employees work face to face with customers or clients. Not necessarily, if a recent court case is any indication.

The case: Joseph Connor, who weighs more than 400 pounds, applied for a job as cook at a Connecticut McDonald’s. Restaurant management verbally offered him a job. But because Connor needed a custom-size uniform, management told him to call back in a few days. He did and was told the uniform wasn’t ready.

After several months of waiting for his uniform, during which the restaurant hired other cooks, Connor filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that McDonald’s had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to hire him because of his weight.

McDonald’s argued that the applicant’s obesity did not deserve protection as a disability under ADA, but the court disagreed and ordered the trial to go forward. The court’s reasoning: McDonald’s perceived Connor as being morbidly obese, which could qualify as a disability under the ADA. Crucial point: ADA protects disabled people from discrimination based on disability or perceived disability. (Connor v. McDonald’s, Conn. Sup. Ct., 2003)

What’s next: We’ll keep you posted on this. But your best bet is to consider every applicant without regard to size, unless it somehow limits the applicant’s ability to complete the work.

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