When an employee is injured on the job, workers’ compensation claims are often set in motion. In recent weeks, a federal district court in Missouri set the tone for more workers’ compensation claims employees may be able to file. Obesity may now be considered a disability.
A man, who previously worked as a general manager for Car-Mart, filed suit against the company after he was terminated. He claims that he was able to perform his job duties, but he was severely obese. The company filed for the case to be dismissed, citing that obesity is not, in fact, a disability. However, the court denied dismissing the case on the grounds that the former worker’s disability claim is within ADA standards. As of June 2013, there was a change made by the American Medical Association that classifies obesity as a condition which may need medical treatment.
Under workers’ compensation, the focus is if an employee has the ability to return to work or not and if it was due to an accident on the job or from an existing condition. If obesity is considered a legitimate disability, then employees may be able to state their claim that obesity hinders them from going back to work. Furthermore, employees would possibly be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits.
Throughout the years, obesity has been considered weight gain by choice. Now, obesity may be considered a temporary or permanent disability under the American Disability Act. This makes it easier for those who are obese and/or suffer injury while at work to receive disability benefits or workers’ compensation. In addition, obese workers in Missouri may also receive financial relief if terminated out of discrimination.
Source: workerscompensation.com, “Obesity as a Disability – How Might This Affect Workers Comp Claims?“, J. Bradley Young, May 2, 2014