Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Morbid Obesity & The ADA

Discriminating against someone with morbid obesity may be a violation of the Americans with Disability Act.  At least it was in the case of Ronald Kratz II who was allegedly fired from BAE Systems for being morbidly obese in 2009.   At the time Kratz weighed over 600 pounds and was employed as a material handler. 

According to Kratz, "my supervisor told me to see HR. I didn't know what it was for and they told me they were terminating me due to my weight. I had good evaluations I was doing a good job I did what I was supposed to do. They just said it was because of my weight."   This happened two weeks after asking for a seat belt extender for the forklift he operated.

While Kratz claimed he was qualified to perform the essential functions of his job, it seems BAE believed that based on morbid obesity, Kratz could not do the job.  As a result BAE fired Kratz.  Interestingly, there were not even discussions between the employee and employer about whether Kratz could be reasonably accommodated.

Kratz recently settled the lawsuit for $55,000.