HireCentrix News Updates
HELENA – The state Supreme Court says obesity qualifies as an impairment in some cases under the Montana Human Rights Act, potentially allowing obese people to seek greater protection against discrimination.
The divided court handed down the ruling Friday in a case between Eric Feit and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, finding that if a person’s weight is outside the normal range and affects one or more body systems, it may constitute a physical or mental impairment – even if it’s not a symptom of some underlying disease or health condition.
The case began in 2009, when Feit filed a complaint with the Montana Department of Labor contending BNSF withdrew a conditional offer to hire him as a conductor trainee because of the “significant health and safety risks associated with extreme obesity,” the Helena Independent Record reported.
According to court documents, the company told Feit in 2008 that the position he had applied for was “safety sensitive.” The company said Feit wouldn’t be considered unless he lost 10 percent of his body weight or successfully completed additional physical examinations at his own expense, and even if he did he wouldn’t be guaranteed a job.
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