Consultant editor Darren Newman considers a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision involving the concept of disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, when considered in relation to an individual with type 2 diabetes largely controlled by avoiding sugary drinks.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has controversially held that a claimant who controls his type 2 diabetes by avoiding sugary food and drinks is not disabled under the Equality Act 2010.
In FOA, acting on behalf of Karsten Kaltoft v Billund Kommune  IRLR 146 ECJ, the ECJ held that where "in interaction with various barriers" an obese worker's "full and effective participation in professional life on an equal basis" is hindered by a limitation that results "in particular from long-term physical, mental or psychological impairments" the worker's obesity will amount to a disability.
A Northern Ireland tribunal has applied the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision in FOA, acting on behalf of Karsten Kaltoft v Billund Kommune that obesity can by itself amount to a disability.
The European Court of Justice has held that while EU law does not lay down a general principle of non-discrimination on the ground of obesity as such, the Equal Treatment Directive (2000/78/EC) must be interpreted as meaning that the obesity of a worker can constitute a disability.
The Advocate General has issued his opinion on the issue of discrimination on the ground of obesity, stating that, while there is no general principle of EU law prohibiting discrimination on the ground of obesity in its own right, morbid obesity may come within the meaning of "disability" (for the purpose of the Equal Treatment Directive (2000/78/EC)) if it is of such a degree as to hinder full participation in professional life on an equal footing with other employees.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to the meaning of disability for the purposes of the disability discrimination legislation.