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Extreme obesity a disability?

A European Union law barring job discrimination against the disabled may apply to obese people, an advisor to Europe’s top court said recently.

The non-binding opinion concerns the dismissal of Karsten Kaltoft, a child-minder, by a Danish City Council in 2010, according to Reuters. Kaltoft said losing his job in part because of his obesity amounted to unfair discrimination, an allegation city council denies. He weighs about 350 pounds and reportedly required assistance to tie shoelaces for children.

Writing on his blog, Brian Kreissl, a product development manager for Carswell, said some commentators suggest courts and tribunals in Canada may follow the decision.

"Now that we have become more enlightened and we realize it’s not acceptable to discriminate against people... it’s time we realized that overweight and obese people are also deserving of dignity and respect," wrote Kreissl.

If obesity becomes a protected ground in Canada, employers will only be able to not hire obese workers for bona fide occupational requirements, such as reasons related to worker safety.

Read Kreissl’s blog at

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