Bruno Waterfield of The Telegraph reports on obesity:
“Fatness ‘can constitute a disability’ for the purposes of European Union equality at work legislation, Europe’s highest court has ruled. The judgment means British companies will be required to treat obese workers as ‘disabled,’ providing them with larger seats, special parking spaces and other facilities. ‘Obesity can constitute a ‘disability’ within the meaning of the Employment Equality Directive,’ the European Court of Justice ruled.”
As reported by Waterfield, the judgement made by the court, following a lawsuit in which an obese employee was terminated by his employer, stipulates that the origin of a “disability” is irrelevant. Rather, the disability need only conform to a set of requirements dictated by the court:
According to the court, a disability is “a limitation which results in particular from long-term physical, mental or psychological impairments which may hinder the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers.”
The news out of England seems to have had a worldwide ripple effect. Obese individuals around the globe could be heard crumpling up their hamburger wrappers, dusting the onion ring fragments off their protruding bellies, and demanding similar measures be taken in their home countries.
Cynthia DuPont, an obesity rights crusader out of Long Island, and long-time obesity sufferer herself, has long been an advocate of legislation that would recognize obesity as a disability:
“It’s high time companies stopped blaming health-challenged employees for their obesity, as if it’s their own choice. Do you think obese individuals choose to sweat though their uniform, even on a chilly winter day? Do you think they choose to become short of breath bending over to pick up discarded merchandise off the ground? Absolutely not. They have been dealt a bad hand, and we should be sympathetic.”
When pressed regarding her own weight, and the large fries, and Coke she had in her hands during our interview, DuPont became indignant, saying: “It’s ignorance like that which perpetuates the notion that obese people are simply lazy, and unwilling to fight their disorder.” DuPont then sucked the remaining crumbs out of the cardboard fries container, threw it in the trash, and stormed off in a huff.
Charlie Collins, an obese taxi driver who was fired after he could no longer fit into his vehicle, applauded the decision by the court, saying:
“Obesity is a disease. I have no more control over my obesity than I do over what I eat, or over the color of my eyes. It’s genetic. The taxi company should have paid for my car to be adjusted to match my size. I’m just glad that obese people finally have advocates in the courts.”
Abruptly following our interview, Mr. Collins had to lie down because he had been standing for 11 minutes straight, and felt “woozy,” and “tired.”
There is concern, however, that this ruling may set a dangerous precedent, encouraging people to become obese in order to obtain “disability” status. Those concerns were quickly dismissed by Dr. Arthur Jackson, author of Short of Breath, Short of Support:
“Extreme weight is not something that can simply be gained; it is not like narcotic addition, or alcoholism. Obesity is a disease for which there is no known cure. We have poured millions of dollars into researching the cause of obesity, and so far, we’ve come up empty. What we must do, and what this court ruling has done in part, is to give support to those suffering from this incurable disease.”
Some have suggested that healthy eating habits, and basic exercise could possibly be a key factor in fighting obesity, but they have been criticized heavily as extremists.