Ronald Kratz II was fired from BAE Systems for being morbidly obese in 2009. He filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), according to the Houston Chronicle.
BAE fired Kratz because it regarded his obesity as a disability and that he could not perform his job duties as a material handler, according to the EEOC. In the 2011 lawsuit filed on Kratz’s behalf, the EEOC claimed that Kratz was qualified to perform the essential functions of his job and that there were not even discussions about whether Kratz could be reasonably accommodated.
The ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace through failure to hire, firing, demotion or other workplace issues. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.
Reasonable accommodations are things like special equipment, modifying job tasks, or transferring to a similar position. An accommodation is not reasonable when it is an "undue hardship." This means that the accommodation would cause significant expense or difficulty in executing.
Only recently has obesity been determined to be a disability under the ADA. The ADA applies once a person is known to have a disability, or is thought to have a disability, and an employer has over 15 employees.
Here, BAE clearly dismissed Kratz because of his obesity. Since it did not even discuss the possibility of accommodation, Kratz had a claim under the ADA. And often, when the EEOC gets involved, the employer is more likely to take action to remedy the issue.
So if you've been fired for being obese or any other disability like BAE Systems did to Ronald Kratz II, talk to a lawyer or seek out help at the EEOC.
- Contact a Houston Employment Lawyer (FindLaw)
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