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A plaintiff’s obesity disability discrimination claim must have direct or circumstantial evidence to show that the employer perceived a disability because of an existing medical condition that causes the plaintiff’s obesity.

July 1, 2019
Dickson v. Community Bus Lines, Docket No. A-3857-17T3 (App. Div. Apr. 4, 2019)

The plaintiff, a bus driver, filed suit against the employer for hostile work environment and disability discrimination under NJ LAD. The plaintiff alleged that his obesity rendered him disabled, or caused the employer to perceive him as disabled, after the employer placed him on temporary leave after he failed to pass a mandatory driver certification exam. The court held that the plaintiff failed to present competent evidence which showed the employer perceived him as disabled and similarly failed to present competent evidence to show a hostile work environment—he had habitually made jokes about himself with other employees. The court also concluded that obesity, in and off itself, is not a disability unless the plaintiff could show it was related to an underlying medical condition.


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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