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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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When questions arise about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other accessibility laws-such as who is protected by the law or what covered entities have to do-often times the answer is "It depends." Such is the case when determining if obesity qualifies as a disability under the law. A couple of pending federal court cases, however, may provide additional guidance on that question. In recent years, cases in the U.S. Courts of Appeals have determined that obesity can be considered a disability under the ADA only if it is linked to another disabling condition. A case pending before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals where an employee with a BMI above obese levels was denied a position based on the potential for developing disabilities that could cause incapacitation. Cases such as this could redefine how obesity is viewed under the ADA.

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