Written by Dorothé Smits and Johan Nijmeijer.

According to Eurostat, during the last decade, the population that is overweight in the European Union (EU) Member States has increased significantly, which has resulted in more than half of the EU population being overweight or obese. Last year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was asked in a preliminary ruling in a Danish case – for the first time – which provisions of EU law, if any, apply to discrimination based on obesity. The Advocate General has recently delivered his opinion and the ECJ is now expected to render a ruling any time soon. In this Alert, the authors highlight the most relevant aspects of the Danish case and related EU case-law as it currently stands. It is likely that some of the issues will seem surprising to readers in the United States, inasmuch as, since the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts have already begun to rule that severe or morbid obesity is a disability regardless of the cause.

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