Disability Law, Fat People, Labor / Employment, Texas

You Can Be Fired for Being Too Fat, But You Might Collect a Fat Settlement Check, Too

Back in September 2011, we mentioned to our readers via Morning Docket that Ronald Kratz II, a 680-pound man, had allegedly been fired because he was too fat. At that point, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had stepped in to sue on this gentleman’s behalf, because apparently his employer perceived his size as a disability.

Now, almost one year later, we’ve got an update on the status of Kratz’s lawsuit. His settlement check is almost as large as he was at the time he was terminated….

When Kratz started working for BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems, he claims that he weighed 450 pounds, and then gained more than 200 pounds while working there. (And I know that I’m not exactly one to talk about excessive weight gain, but come on, that’s like a metric s**t-ton.)

He has since slimmed down to 350 pounds with the help of diet, exercise, and weight-loss surgery. At least he did something to try to fix the problem instead of waiting to be medivac’d out of his house with a fork lift.

In the end, this was a question of whether Kratz was able to perform the essential functions of his job, and according to Kratz’s EEOC complaint, BAE officials never discussed with him whether he’d receive any kind of “reasonable accommodation” to better perform his duties. The Twinkie that allegedly broke the camel’s back was the fact that Kratz was replaced by an employee who wasn’t obese.

Here’s more on Kratz’s settlement from the Houston Chronicle:

Ronald Kratz II

BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems has agreed to pay $55,000 and provide six months of outplacement services to a morbidly obese employee it fired, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. …

“BAE Systems is pleased to have reached an amicable resolution to the lawsuit with Mr. Kratz,” according to a statement from spokeswoman Stephanie Serkhoshian in Arlington, Va.

She said the company denies any wrongdoing in connection with its decision to terminate Kratz.

Of course the company is denying any wrongdoing. Why would an employer want to admit that it terminated an employee because he was out of shape? Round is a shape, you know.

Anyway, congratulations to Kratz on his victory. Hopefully we can wave goodbye to this kind of employment discrimination sometime soon — without the bye-bye arm, of course.

Fired obese worker will get $55,000 [Houston Chronicle]
Fired for Being Too Fat, Worker Gets $55K Settlement With EEOC’s Help [ABA Journal]

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