On Oct. 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit joined a growing number of circuits to hold that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not prohibit a company from declining to hire an individual because of concerns that the individual’s obesity will develop into a physical impairment at a later time. This was the Seventh Circuit’s second opinion in the span of a few months addressing whether obesity and obesity-related conditions fall within the scope of the ADA.
Ronald Shell applied to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for a job at one of its railyards. After BNSF told Shell that he would not be hired due to his obesity, he filed suit under the ADA, alleging that he was discriminated against on the basis of a disability. See Shell v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, No. 19-1030 (7th Cir. Oct. 29, 2019).
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