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Obesity and Disability

23 December 2014: Reasonable Adjustments for Santa?

Santa has been getting rather portly in recent years and his sleigh is no longer comfortable for him to ride in.


Santa has mixed feelings about the European Court of Justice decision in FOA (Kaltoft) v Billund which held that obesity can be a disability but that discrimination on the grounds of obesity is not necessarily unlawful.


Mr Kaltoft was a clinically-obese child-minder for a local council in Denmark. He was dismissed due to redundancy, but he alleged that his weight played a part in his dismissal.


The ECJ held that obesity itself cannot be regarded as a ground for protection against discrimination. Obesity’ entails a limitation which results in particular from physical, mental or psychological impairments that in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers, and the limitation is a long-term one”. It could therefore be a disability. The causes of that disability were irrelevant.


As a resident of the North Pole, Santa is of course domiciled outside the EU. He has asked Rudolf to make some urgent adjustments to his sleigh before Christmas Eve, but how he’s going to get down millions of chimney’s is anyone’s guess. When asked for a comment Santa said ‘Ho ho ho, I’ll be eating Rudolf’s carrots from the 1st January!


Merry Christmas from everyone at Reculver Solicitors. Tel 0207 118 0950.

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