Europe’s highest court ruled this week that being obese “can constitute a disability,” meaning that fat workers must be provided with special accommodations such as larger chairs, closer parking spaces, and other facilities that help them work without impediment. The judgment comes in the case of Karsten Kaltoft, a Danish childcare worker who brought a suit against his employer because he believed he was fired due to his weight.
Speaking after the verdict, Kaltoft said, “It is good that we now recognize that obesity can be a handicap, and I hope that municipality realize that it was not okay to fire me.” In their ruling, the EU court determined that it made no difference how a person came to be overweight; even if wholly responsible for their own obesity, a person was still entitled to special treatment due to their “disability.”
And no, this is not from The Onion.
Could a ruling like this come to the United States? I wouldn’t be surprised. Our national weight has been skyrocketing to the stratosphere for several decades now, and despite billions of dollars being thrown at the problem, it doesn’t seem to be going away. Since there’s no question that a seriously obese person is less able-bodied than someone who isn’t, it’s probably only a matter of time before a court decides that U.S. employers have to make special exemptions for the gluttony of their workers.
Hell, already we have writers calling for just such a thing. Writing in the Washington Post in the wake of the EU’s decision, Helen Leahey argues not only in favor of treating obesity as a disability, but also that it should become another protected class like race or sex. Arguing that “it’s hard to impress someone when you’re the fat applicant,” Leahey insists that “people who are overweight or obese regularly earn less and get fewer promotions than those who aren’t.”
It’s Not My Fault, He Whined
We’ve officially entered a new age. Call it the I’m Not Responsible Age. A legion of people who thought the old saying was, “A bag of Cheetos a day keeps the doctor away” now want America’s employers to pay for their inability to exert self-control. Everyone is a victim in this new age, including people whose bad decisions are solely to blame for their lot in life.
But no, it’s not their fault. The real blame lies with Froot Loops. The real blame is movie theater popcorn. School lunch, maybe. Whatever it is, it’s certainly not them. They didn’t ask to be fat. It was just bestowed on them. Another bad break, like a club foot or Down’s syndrome.
What’s next? Should employers have to provide cocaine for workers who need it to function at their full potential? Maybe we should roll back sexual harassment laws; after all, psychologists say sex addiction is a real thing. Maybe it’s unfair to expect these addicts to keep their hands to themselves.
Or maybe we should wake up, realize that being fat is a choice, and stop coddling people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.