On August 20, 2019, the Ninth Circuit dodged answering the question of whether morbid obesity is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Valtierra v. Medtronic Inc., No. 17-15282, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, but came short of joining the Second, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits in explicitly holding that obesity cannot constitute a disability under applicable EEOC regulations unless there is evidence that the obesity is caused by an underlying physiological condition.
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Does an employer violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if it requires an entire class of employees to undergo a medical examination without assessing each class member’s individual characteristics? Filling a relative void in case law, the Eighth Circuit recently said no – at least where the employer has credible safety concerns and seeks to comply with federal regulations and guidelines.
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Appellate courts in two neighboring states—Kentucky and West Virginia—have reached different conclusions on whether obesity is a disability.

In the Kentucky case, the plaintiff, who was approximately five feet four inches in height and weighed four hundred twenty-five pounds, claimed that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her due to her morbid obesity in violation

Citing research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on June 5, 2010, the New York Times reported that one in five women are obese when they become pregnant.  The article states "obesity might be contributing to record-high rates of Caesarean section and leading to more birth defects and deaths for mothers and babies." 

As well illustrated in the NYT

As the ADA’s 20th anniversary nears, let’s revisit one of its lofty goals: to place a sweeping federal blanket over the patchwork of state and federal laws that protects individuals with disabilities.

A recent Second Circuit opinion leaves no doubt that the patchwork lives on  In Spiegel v. Schulmann, decided on May 6, 2010, a