Earlier this year the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD), for firing an employee because of her obesity, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The case arose from the charge of a former RHD employee, Lisa Harrison, who claimed that RHD fired her from a New Orleans facility because of her disability.
According to the EEOC’s suit (No. 2:10-cv-03322 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana), Harrison began working for RHD in 1999, as a Prevention/Intervention Specialist. Harrison worked with young children of mothers undergoing treatment for addiction. RHD fired Harrison in September of 2007 because of her severe obesity, the suit alleges. The EEOC alleges that, as a result of her obesity, RHD perceived Harrison as being substantially limited in a number of major life activities, including walking. Harrison was able, according to the lawsuit, to perform all of the essential functions of her position. Before the EEOC filed suit, Harrison died.
Disability discrimination violates the ADA. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after efforts to resolve the case through settlement were unsuccessful.