American Medical Association’s Decision to Label Obesity a Disease May Affect Disability Claims in in New York and Nationwide

In mid-June, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to recognize obesity as a disease at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago. The measure was approved by AMA delegates despite that the group’s Council on Science and Public Health reportedly recommended against it. Although the AMA’s decision has no binding legal authority, it was apparently aimed at focusing more attention on the increasingly common health issue.

Whether or not obesity is a disease has reportedly been debated for a number of years. According to AMA Board member Dr. Patrice Harris, the group decided to recognize obesity as a disease instead of a condition in an effort to change the way the health issue is treated by medical professionals and insurers. In addition, Dr. Harris stated the disease, which now afflicts approximately one-third of all Americans, is linked to a number of additional heath issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately, defining obesity can be tough as there is currently no universally accepted definition. Also, the body mass index calculations used by many doctors to diagnose obesity are considered flawed by most medical authorities.

The AMA’s decision is especially interesting because it may have implications for obese employees who suffer workplace discrimination. Although it is currently unclear whether obesity constitutes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), morbid obesity is considered a disability by the nation’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 2010, the EEOC filed a lawsuit that alleged morbid obesity was a protected disability under the ADA. Last year, the EEOC also settled a case on behalf of a morbidly obese man who suffered discrimination at work.

No matter the cause, disabled employees often suffer unlawful workplace discrimination. Too many supervisors and employers choose to harass or discriminate against individuals who suffer from a temporary or permanent disability. Disabled workers in New York and New Jersey have a right to expect fair treatment. In addition, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations that allow an employee to perform his or her job. If you feel that you suffered employment discrimination as a result of a disability, you are advised to contact a quality employment law advocate to help you protect your rights.

The caring employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former workers in legal matters that involve disability discrimination, gender discrimination, employment contracts, and a variety of others issues in both New Jersey and New York. To discuss how our hardworking lawyers may assist you, please contact our law firm online or give us a call today at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

AARP Survey Finds Most Older Americans in New York and Nationwide Have Experienced Age Discrimination at Work, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, June 18, 2013
Former Law Firm Shareholder Settles Proposed Class-Action Gender Discrimination Case Filed in New York, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, June 17, 2013
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A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity as a Disease
, by Andrew Pollack, New York Times

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