In July of 2013, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky issued an Order that involved a woman who alleged she was fired because she was morbidly obese and thus she sued for disability discrimination. (See Pennington v. Wagner’s Pharmacy, Inc., 2013 WL 3480307 (Ky. App. 2013)). The lower trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and had dismissed the lawsuit that the Plaintiff brought alleging disability discrimination based on her morbid obesity. But, this appellate court reversed and did so for the following reasons.
Plaintiff’s lawyer filed the Kentucky disability discrimination based on morbid obesity case because Plaintiff alleged that she was fired for being obese. The plaintiff worked for the defendant as a food truck operator in the backside area of Churchill Downs for approximately ten years. Id. She was approximately 5’4’’ and 425 pounds. On a day off, Plaintiff went to work to pick up her check. On that particular day, plaintiff was moving and so she did not look her best. Soon thereafter, on April 26, 2007, the manager of the defendant asked plaintiff’s supervisor to terminate her due to her “personal appearance.”. Id. Plaintiff’s Kentucky disability discrimination based on morbid obesity lawyer was able to get two affidavits from two co-workers of plaintiff who stated that the supervisor told them in tears that she, plaintiff was fired, because she was “overweight and dirty.” Id.
On June 7, 2007, plaintiff’s Kentucky disability lawyer filed her lawsuit. On June 3, 2011, defendant filed the motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.
In Kentucky, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to a disability. (cites omitted). Plaintiff’s Kentucky disability lawyer has to prove 1) that she had a disability as that term is used under the statute (ie. KCRA), 2) that she was “otherwise qualified” to perform the requirements of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation, and 3) that she suffered an adverse employment decision because of the disability. Id.
The Court looked at whether plaintiff was disabled according to statute. KRS 344.010(4) lists in part what a disability is. In part it is a) A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one (1) or more of the major life activities of the individual, b) a record of such an impairment, or c) being regarded as having such an impairment. Id.
Plaintiff’s Kentucky disability lawyer claimed that she suffered from morbid obesity. Morbid obesity is defined as a person’s weighing either double his normal weight or at least one-hundred pounds more than his normal weight. (cites omitted). The trial court dismissed the case because it did not find that her morbid obesity came from some underlying physiological order. But, the appellate court disagreed, citing to plaintiff’s doctor who has performed thousands of bariatric (weight loss) surgeries and testified that plaintiff suffered from a metabolic disease and that her obesity was caused by a cluster of often unknown physiological abnormalities. Id. Further there was testimony that plaintiff suffered from diabetes, sleep apnea, a condition causing difficulty in breathing during sleep. The court noted that there is no dispute that breathing is a major life activity. Id.
The defense could still terminate plaintiff in this Kentucky disability discrimination case if they could establish a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason. Id. Defendant claimed that plaintiff was fired for not generating sales. But, plaintiff had proof that she was fired for her “appearance.” Thus there was a clear conflict and a genuine question of fact as to the true reason for her dismissal. Id. Thus, this was the territory for a jury to decide the case and not a trial judge. Thus, the Kentucky disability discrimination case was remanded back to the lower court.
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky Disability Discrimination Based on Morbid Obesity case, please call and speak to a Kentucky Disability Discrimination Based on Morbid Obesity lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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