Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The expanding definition of disability

Is being morbidly obese a disability?

In some cases, I might agree that it is, but when Stephen Grindle (405 lbs) sued his former employer for unlawful termination, the judge ruled that "morbid obesity ... does not have a physiological cause [and] is not a disability under ADA."

I think what's missing here is testimony from a doctor about what caused Mr. Grindle's obesity. It may have been simple, voluntary over-eating. But, in the case of morbid obesity, I think there may, in fact, be a physiological cause that is beyond the person's control. In such a case, I could see including obesity as a disability.

What about being too short?

Lack of height is certainly not voluntary, and it can certainly be inconvenient, but does it truly limit one's life choices and opportunities in the ways other, recognized disabilities do?

A growing group of advocates think shortness is, in fact, a disability. What do you think? Is this going too far?

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