U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Case Status


Docket Number


Oral Argument Date

December 17, 2015


Case Updates

Petition for rehearing denied

May 19, 2016

Eighth Circuit addresses obesity as an ADA disability

April 05, 2016

The Eighth Circuit held that a “physical impairment” must be the result of an underlying physiological disorder or condition to qualify as a disability under the EEOC or the ADA. In this case, that means that obesity by itself is not a disability absent some physiological disorder or condition. The Court also rejected the idea that the plaintiff had a claim for “regarded as” discrimination based on the defendant’s policy regarding obesity in safety sensitive positions because of the risk of future physical impairment. The court reasoned that a “regarded as” claim exists only where an employer views the employee as being currently disabled, not where the employer fears that they may be impaired in the future.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

May 22, 2015

In its coalition brief to the Eighth Circuit, the U.S. Chamber argued that obesity is not an ADA disability when it neither causes a significant functional impairment nor is caused by a physiological disorder. The EEOC filed an amicus brief in support of the private plaintiff arguing that obesity should be considered a disability under the ADA whenever it is beyond the “normal” range, although the EEOC did not identify a consistent definition of “abnormal” obesity.

The Chamber’s brief explained that this approach ignores the text and statutory history of the ADA and would impose unreasonable burdens on employers that were never contemplated by Congress. The Chamber filed the brief jointly with the Equal Employment Advisory Council and National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center.

Rae T. Vann of Norris, Tysse, Lampley & Lakis, LLP served as counsel for the amici with the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Case Documents