Too fat to work? 200kg employee is fighting against his dismissal

On June 27, 2016 the Higher Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht Düsseldorf, docket number 7 Sa 120/16) had to decide whether the termination of employment of a man weighing 200 kg is justified.

The defendant worked in a landscaping, civil engineering and canal construction business. Besides the plaintiff, who has worked for the defendant since 1985, the defendant employs more than ten other employees. The plaintiff is 1,94 m high and weighs around 200 kg. In February 2014 the plaintiff took part in a health programme at a medical centre for obesity, to ensure his operational capability. The defendant suggested that he participate in this health programme  to lose weight.

After the completion of the program, however, the targets goals weren’t achieved. As a result the defendant  terminated the employment agreement on July 2015, because of the plaintiff’s incapacity – due to his weight – to drive small trucks or to fit in a canal for canal construction. Furthermore the plaintiff was not able to use a ladder, because it only carried up to 150 kg. Furthermore, there are no working clothes and protective garments which would fit the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that the termination was not valid as his incapacity is comparable to the incapacity of a disabled person and consequently, he may not be discriminated against. In addition, the plaintiff claimed compensation in the amount of € 6,000 because of the unlawful discrimination.

The Labour Court ruled that the termination was invalid, but did not award any compensation. During the appeal hearing, however, the parties came to a settlement. The plaintiff will continue to work for the defendant, but will not receive any compensation. The plaintiff has also initiated further measures to lose weight.