Following the case of Karstel Kaltoft, who managed to sue a Danish authority for firing him because he was overweight, the EU have passed a policy which means employers will have to offer facilities to make employment more comfortable for overweight workers. Kaltoft, at 25 stone, was working as a nanny and was allegedly let go after he was unable bend down and tie the shoelaces of the children in his care.
Kaltoft believed he was let go on unfair discriminatory grounds, and managed to sue Billund city council. In an interview with the Telegraph Kaltoft stated: "I never saw it as a requirement that I needed to lose weight and never had a feeling it could cost me the job."
Niilo Jaaskinen, serving as the Advocate General for the European Court of Justice when speaking to the Guardian dismissed that self inflicted obesity be any different to medical obesity: "The origin of the disability is irrelevant. It does not depend on whether the applicant has contributed casually to the acquisition of his disability."
Judges ruling this case were quick to add that obesity was not in itself the disability, but if the obesity was the cause of another health problem that they would benefit from disability protection. As a result of this action, employers may have to provide reserved parking places or even appropriate desks or chairs for office work.
The Chairwoman from the British Obesity Society, Jane Deville Almond, voiced her disapproval of the decision: "It is implying that people have no control over the condition, rather than something that can be greatly improved by changing behaviour."
Other comments from weight loss and obesity experts have been generally very negative, one businessman said it was the law "being an ass" whilst Steve Miller, presenter of Fat Families the TV show said: "The world has gone crazy. It is an insult to those who are genuinely disabled." Boris Johnson also called it "utterly ridiculous".
Following this action, Kaltoft's case will be reviewed by the Danish Court to see whether he fits into the category of having a disability, which could now mean he will receive benefits from carrying health problems due to extreme obesity.