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Obesity Not a Protected Class; If It Is a Disability, Employee Failed to Provide Evidence of Discriminatory Treatment
Description Court dismissed a suit by an employee who claimed she was subject to discrimination and hostile treatment because of obesity. Obesity is not a protected class. If it is a disability, the employee failed to show discriminatory treatment on that basis.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Disability; Obesity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Dale worked for the U.S. Air Force for 29 years. When she resigned she was Chief of Business Operations Flight at a base in Alabama. She had received high appraisals for eight years prior to resignation. She was 5'3" tall and weighed over 300 pounds. The last two years, she was under the supervision of Lt. Col. Sykes, who was sent to Dale's division to correct financial problems. Dale claimed that Sykes berated and demeaned her, prevented her from trying to transfer, and usurped her authority over subordinates. Dale claimed that Sykes perceived that she had a disability and was not capable of doing a good job due to obesity. The Air Force moved for summary judgment.
Decision Summary judgment granted. Assuming obesity is a disability, the Air Force showed that there were employment-related reasons for Sykes' critical treatment of Dale's performance given the financial problems of the department. The criticism was not shown to be based on a disability. However, to state a claim for a hostile work environment, Dale must show that she is a member of a protected group; she has not done so. Further, Dale failed to show that she was treated to adverse employment action in retaliation for her complaining about her treatment.
Citation Dale v. Wynne,---F.Supp.2d--- (2007 WL 2093888, M.D., Ala., 2007)

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