AMA Obesity Decision May Sway Bosses First

You might think that the AMA obesity decision — to treat obesity as a disease — would have a big effect, first and foremost, on doctors. You might be wrong. No doubt doctors will respond, but they are dithering and slow by comparison to what we’re hearing from big business.

With remarkable consistency, the experts of employment law are saying that the AMA decision means employers will have to root out discrimination against people with obesity. Writing about the implications of the decision, Eric Meyer says in the Employer Handbook:

Employers should avoid stereotypes and generalities and view each request/situation on a case-by-case basis. In addition to fostering a “culture of respect,” remember that not just open, but open-minded communication about disability issues — obesity and otherwise — will protect both employees and employers.

The EEOC was already on record in its enforcement plan. Obesity can be considered a disability that employers must accommodate. And they’ve been winning cases against employers who discriminate. Now the AMA has provided a tipping point that business lawyers are seizing upon.

In response to the AMA obesity decision, Doctors will dither and insurers will equivocate. Yes, they’ll change their ways eventually and provide more treatment of obesity. But big, smart employers will act quickly and systematically to protect themselves from liability for discrimination.

Click here to read more in the Employer Handbook and click here to read more from the National Law Forum.

Domus Domorum, Ceiling Bosses of York Minster Chapter House. Photograph © Lawrence OP / flickr

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