One Size Does Not Fit All: Accommodating Obesity-Related Disabilities in the Workplace

  • Mark V. RoehlingEmail author
  • Mevan Jayasinghe


Several factors are combining to make it increasingly important that employers recognize their obligation to accommodate job applicants and employees with obesity-related disabilities, and respond effectively to requests for such accommodations when they arise. This article provides analysis and guidance that is intended to assist employers and practitioners in anticipating and responding to requests for obesity-related workplace accommodations. It is based on a review and analysis of all identified U.S. judicial decisions involving obesity-related workplace accommodations that were either voluntarily provided or disputed by an employer. The results of that review and analysis are summarized in a table by the type of accommodation, job, and court ruling (when the accommodation was not voluntarily provided). The table provides a list of potential obesity-related accommodations that is both more comprehensive and more specific than any list previously published in the legal, behavioral sciences, or health literatures. Key legal issues are identified and discussed, and practical guidance is provided. Although the focus is U.S. law, the guidance provided has relevance to employers and practitioners in the European Union, and those countries whose laws recognize that obesity may involve a legally protected disability that entitles an individual to reasonable accommodation in at least some circumstances.


Reasonable accommodations Disability Obesity Discrimination 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.

Informed Consent

As indicated above, the submitted manuscript does report a study involving human participants; as a result, there was no need (or opportunity) to obtain informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Resources and Labor RelationsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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