Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Kentucky Supreme Court Rules in Lawsuit Filed by Morbidly Obese Employee of Wagner’s Pharmacy

By Amanda Warford Edge

Employee-TerminationOn May 14, 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling in Wagner’s Pharmacy, Inc. v. Melissa K. Pennington. Pennington had filed the lawsuit back in 2007, alleging that her employer, Wagner’s Pharmacy, discriminated against her by terminating her employment due to her morbid obesity. At the time of filing the lawsuit, Pennington weighed 425 pounds. She is just 5’4” tall.

Wagner’s cited Pennington’s poor personal appearance and declining sales as the reasons behind Pennington’s termination – not Pennington’s weight. Prior to her termination, Pennington had operated a food and drink concession truck owned by Wagner’s at Churchill Downs. She had been employed by Wagner’s for approximately ten years.

In support of her discrimination lawsuit, Pennington relied on the expert testimony of Dr. Gaar, a board-certified surgeon who had performed nearly 2,000 gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Gaar testified in detail as to the causes of morbid obesity, stating that Continue reading

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EEOC: Obesity is a Disability

By Kim Koratsky

According to a press release from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it has filed suit in New Orleans, LA, against Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD), for firing an employee (Lisa Harrison) because of her obesity, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the EEOC’s suit, Harrison began working for RHD in 1999, counseling mothers of children undergoing treatment for addiction.  The EEOC alleges that, as a result of her obesity, Harrison was perceived as being substantially limited in a number of major life activities, including walking.  The suit stems from a Charge filed by Harrison in which she claimed that RHD fired her because of her disability.  Before the suit was filed, Harrison died and her interests will be represented by her estate.

In a statement, Keith Hill, field director of the EEOC’s New Orleans office said, “this is a classic case of disability bias, based on myths and stereotypes.”  A non-profit organization, RHD is based on Pennsylvania, has facilities in 14 states, and more than 4,000 employees.