Obesity Qualifies as Impairment Under Washington Labor Law
A prospective employee sought redress against an employer on allegations it discriminated against him in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) when it perceived him to be physically impaired due to obesity and withdrew his employment offer. On a question certified to the Washington Supreme Court by the Ninth Circuit, the Court considered whether obesity always qualifies as an “impairment” under the WLAD precluding disparate treatment on the basis of an employer perceiving an employee as having an impairment. The Court held the state law banning workplace discrimination against the disabled provides protections for obese people. It reasoned obesity qualifies as an "impairment" because it is recognized by the medical community as a physiological disorder.