IBA Annual Conference Miami 2022

30 Oct - 4 Nov 2022

Room 232, Level 2

Session information

Discrimination on grounds of obesity – do the discrimination laws ensure sufficient protection?

Wednesday 2 November (1615 - 1730)

Room 232, Level 2
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Diversity and Equality Law Committee (Lead)


DiversityInclusionObesity is a health risk that a majority of the population across the world is facing. As per the WHO, obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, and the obesity numbers have nearly tripled since 1975. At the same time data from the US suggests that weight stigma and discrimination has been increasing. Obesity discrimination has many negative effects on the mental wellbeing and prosperity of the affected people and there have been several reports in the US indicating a ‘wage penalty’ on people being overweight or obese. 

In December 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for the first time addressed the question whether it is contrary to EU law to dismiss an employee on grounds of obesity. The CJEU stated that EU law does not lay down a general principle of non-discrimination on grounds of obesity as such. Obesity may, however, under certain conditions constitute a disability within the meaning of the Employment Equality Directive. This case was finally decided by the Danish High Court in November 2020. Several other jurisdictions, including the United States, have jurisprudence developing on this issue and reports suggest that employees are increasingly claiming discrimination based on obesity in the workplace, e.g. in recruitment and redundancy processes. Only a few jurisdictions have, however, implemented anti-weight discrimination regulations.

But what kind of legal protection is needed to adequately protect employees against discrimination on grounds of obesity? Is there a need for more focus on the prevention of weight stigma and discrimination in the Diversity & Inclusion strategies in the workplaces. And is there a possibility or need for an affirmative action policy/obligation for employers towards persons being obese?

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Yvonne Frederiksen LL.M. Norrbom Vinding, Copenhagen, Denmark; Co-Chair, Disability Rights Working Group
Ajay Singh Solanki AZB & Partners, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Co-Chair, Disability Rights Working Group


Rocio Blanco Garcia Littler Mendelson PC, Miami, Florida, USA
Jacqueline Chamberlain Brand Institute Inc, Miami, Florida, USA
Keith Corkan Woodfines Solicitors, Milton Keynes, England
Ignacio Funes de Rioja Bruchou & Funes De Rioja , Buenos Aires, Argentina; Vice Chair, Global Employment Institute (GEI)
Sophie Marinier LPA-CGR avocats, Paris, France