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Accommodation and Compliance: Obesity

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About Obesity

Obesity is used to describe a person that is above their ideal weight by about 20% or more. This can correspond with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30+. In addition to behavioral and dietary patterns, other things can influence a person's weight, from genetics to medications to illnesses. Obesity is associated with gallstones, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and respiratory conditions. It can also increase the chances of health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. The risk of certain cancers, such as breast, colon, kidney, liver, and others can also be increased with obesity.

Obesity and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).

Accommodating Employees with Obesity

People with obesity may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with obesity will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Accommodation Ideas:

Situations and Solutions:

Events Regarding Obesity