Recent Decision Affecting the Americans with Disabilities Act

On Wednesday, June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found, for the first time, that extreme obesity qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but only if caused by an underlying physiological disorder.

The case comes at a time when views on disability are evolving. The American Medical Association designated obesity as a disease in 2013. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various federal courts have decided that obesity alone should entitle afflicted workers to certain protections, other federal courts—and now the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois—have required workers to show that an underlying medical condition is contributing to their obesity before the ADA is triggered.

If you have any questions about the decision, or any other employment matter, please contact Norm Finkel at or Matt Tyrrell at, or call (312) 648-2300.

To view a complete copy of the court decision, click here.

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