Fitness Rulings
Tenth Circuit rejects a discrimination claim brought by a 338 lb. 6'3" federal worker. "Plaintiff was not discriminated against because of his weight. He simply failed to meet the minimum physical requirements of the position. ... The job requires an operator who might be able at all times to respond to an emergency with some degree of physical agility." Wilkerson v. Shinseki, #09-8027, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 11135, 109 FEP Cases (BNA) 660, 23 A.D. Cases (BNA) 321 (10th Cir.).
EEOC failed to prove that an employee's morbid obesity (body weight more than 100% over the norm) was the result of a physiological condition; a physical characteristic must relate to a physiological disorder in order to qualify as an ADA impairment. EEOC v. Watkins, #05-3218, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 23177, 2006 FED App. 0351P, 18 AD Cases (BNA) 641 (6th Cir. 2006). {N/R}

Federal court dismisses a suit filed by an overweight officer who "was humiliated and embarrassed" by having to take a fitness exam, under the threat of disciplinary action. Bunyon v. Henderson, #01-242, 2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 11435 (D.D.C. 2002). [2002 FP Sep]

Ninth Circuit holds that the use of height-weight tables for men and women, taken from the different sources, is gender discrimination. Frank v. United Airlines, #98-15638, 216 F.3d 845, 83 FEP Cases (BNA) 1, 2000 U.S. App. Lexis 14336 (9th Cir.). [2000 FP 139]
Federal appeals court rejects ADA suit by overweight firefighter. He failed to prove management "perceived" him to have a covered disability. Francis v. City of Meriden, #96- 9610, 129 F.3d 281, 1997 U.S. App. Lexis 32159 7 AD Cases (BNA) 955 (2nd Cir.). [1998 FP 170]

Firefighter loses ADA suit challenging department's mandatory weight reduction policy; management did not "regard" him as impaired. Francis v. City of Meriden, 129 F.3d 281, 7 AD Cases (BNA) 957, 1997 U.S.App. Lexis 32159 (2nd Cir.). [1998 FP 24-5]
Federal appeals court rejects suit by Ohio state troopers who challenged weight and fitness regulations as discriminatory. They were neither disabled nor "regarded" as impaired. Andrews v. Ohio, 104 F.3d 803, 1997 U.S.App. Lexis 457 (6th Cir.). [1997 FP 58-9]
Minnesota appellate court upholds termination of a 350+ pound firefighter who was unable to lose weight. Senior v. City of Edina, 547 N.W.2d 411 (Minn.App. 1996). [1997 FP 58]
Federal judge refuses to dismiss a claim of ADA discrimination based on a police officer's obesity; it is "a question of fact for the jury." Morrow v. City of Jacksonville, 941 F.Supp. 821 (E.D.Ark. 1996). {N/R}
300 lb. firefighter applicant loses discrimination suit. Although Michigan law protects overweight persons, the city lawfully rejected the plaintiff for his inability to deal with stress. Howard v. City of Southfield, #95-1014, 1996 U.S. App. Lexis 25290. [Michigan is the only state to prohibit weight discrimination; Mich. Comp. Laws §37.2202(1)(a)]. {N/R}
Woman officer ordered to lose weight, awarded $650,000 for gender bias. Hart v. City of Peabody, Essex Co. Mass. #93-2252-A, 34 (1558) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 427 (Super.Ct. 1996). [1996 FP 104-5]
Federal court rejects suit by an overweight former trooper who was demoted to dispatcher for her failure to lose weight. She was not "disabled" under federal law. Smaw v. Va. State Police, 862 F.Supp. 1469 (D.Va 1994). [1995 FP 42-3]
EEOC concludes that a supervisor's order that a morbidly obese employee lose weight constituted “blatant and unjustified disparate treatment” in violation of Sec. 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Kellus v. Runyon, #01933281, 18 (5) M&PDLR (ABA) 529 (EEOC 1994). {N/R}
Federal appeals court affirms $100,000 verdict awarded applicant who was rejected for being overweight. Cook v. R.I. Dept. of Mental Health, 10 F.3d 17 (1st Cir. 1993). [1994 FP 42]
Federal court upholds DC human rights suit by an ex-employee who claimed she was terminated in violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination because of "personal appearance." Underwood v. Archer M.S.I., 65 FEP Cases (BNA) 791 (D.D.C. 1994).
Law article published: "Grooming and weight standards for law enforcement: the legal issues," 63 (7) FBI Law Enf. Bull. 27-32 (Jul. 1994); online at
California Supreme Court recognizes obesity as a handicap only when the condition is caused by a "physiological disorder affecting one or more bodily systems." Cassista v. Community Foods, Inc., 2 AD Cases (BNA) 1188 (Cal. 1993). [1993 FP 169-70]
Federal appeals court enforces fire department's weight standard; no evidence that disciplinary action was motivated by the plaintiff's race. Armstrong v. City of Dallas, 62 FEP Cases (BNA) 852, 997 F.2d 62 (5th Cir. 1993). [1993 FP 153-4]
Morbid obesity is a federally protected "disability', defined as twice one's normal weight. Plaintiff was 5'2" and weighed 320 lbs. Cook v. R.I. Dept. Mental Health, #93-1093, 10 F.3d 1476, 2 AD Cases (BNA) 1476 (1st Cir. 1993). [1993 FP 154]
Obesity is not a handicap in Pennsylvania. City could reject an overweight applicant without proof of job-relevance to height/weight standards. Civil Serv. Cmsn. v. Penn. Human Rltns. Cmsn., 591 A.2d 281 (Pa. 1991). [1992 FP 24-5]
Federal court rejects challenge to termination brought by "excessively obese" police captain. Johnson v. City of Tarpon Springs, 758 F.Supp. 1473 (M.D. Fla. 1991). [1992 FP 75]
Obesity is not a handicap in Pennsylvania. City could reject an overweight applicant without proof of job-relevance to height/weight standards. Civil Serv. Cmsn. v. Penn. Human Rltns. Cmsn., 591 A.2d 281 (Pa. 1991). [1992 FP 24-5]
New Jersey appellate court finds that employee was unlawfully discharged for obesity.; he was 5'8" and weighed 272 lbs. N.J. Statute [10:5-5q] includes any "psychological or developmental disability." Gimello v. Agency R-A-C, 2 AD Cases 1215 (N.J.A.D. 1991).
Appellate court upholds discipline against overweight LAFD ambulance driver; city need not prove his excess weight actually impaired his efficiency. McMillen v. Civil Serv. Cmsn., 8 Cal.Rptr.2d 548 (1992). See also: United Paramedics of L.A. v. City of Los Angeles, #89-1182-R (C.D. Cal. 1989). [1989 FP 88]
Disciplinary action against overweight police officer upheld by Missouri appellate court. Gray v. City of Florissant, 588 S.W.2d 722 (Mo.App. 1979).
Applicant, rejected for obesity, was entitled to relief under the Federal Rehab. Act as a "handicapped individual." Cook v. St. of R.I., 783 F.Supp. 1569, 58 FEP Cases (BNA) 1633 (D.R.I. 1992). [1992 FP 120-1]
Appellate court sustains progressive discipline against female LAFD paramedic who gained 100 pounds in seven years. Hegwer v. L.A. Bd. of Civil Serv. Cmsnrs., 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 389 (App. 1992). [1992 FP 170]
Alabama appellate court upholds termination of 225 lb. firefighter for being consistently overweight. Smith v. Folmar, 534 So.2d 309 (Ala. Civ. App. 1988). [1992 FP 119-120]
North Dakota supreme court finds that obesity alone is not a protected handicap; recognizes retaliatory discharge action in workers" comp cases. Krein v. Marian Manor Nursing Home, 415 N.W.2d 793 (N.D. 1987).
City power lineman demonstrated disability; opinion of supervisors that inability was due to obesity rather than injury did not defeat claim. Knapp v. Missouri Local Gov. Employees Retir. Sys., 738 S.W.2d 903 (Mo.App. 1987).
City could refuse to hire police applicant, a weight lifter, who was "overweight" on health charts. Brletic v. Munic. of Monroeville, 440 A.2d 686 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1980).
Overweight a valid cause for suspension. Town of Orange and Int'l Brotherhood of Police Officers, L-349 Case #7374-A-92, Conn. Bd. of Med. & Arb. (1974); City of Sharon v. Rose of Sharon Lodge #3, 11 Pa.Commw. 277, 315 A.2d 355, 1973 Pa. Commw. Lexis 478 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1973). {N/R}
Oregon court rejects overweight police officers" claims for protection under handicap laws. Unsightly fat need not be related health concerns, but are justified by dept's appearance standards. Beck v. State Dept. of State Police, Case #A8603-01816, Multnomah Co. Cir. Ct., Ore. (11/16/86).