News & Articles

Can Obesity Alone be Considered a Disability in Washington State?

Published on March 10, 2016

A recent federal court ruling determined that under Washington law, obesity in and of itself, without any related condition or diagnosis that is connected to the obesity, was not a disability under Washington law.  Federal U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled that an employer’s request for medical examinations related to a prospective employee’s obesity was not disability discrimination under the Washington Law Against Discrimination where there was no evidence of any physiological condition related to the obesity.  A copy of the opinion is linked here.

Impact on Employers

Washington regulations reference many do’s and don’ts for pre-employment questions, but offer no guidance on acceptable questions and inquiries after a conditional offer of employment is made.  Post-offer inquiries can often give rise to disputes that can leave employers exposed to claims, government investigations, and even lengthy litigation.  If you or your company finds itself in a questionable situation of needing more information after a conditional offer of employment is extended, feel free to contact an attorney in the Employment Rights, Benefits and Labor Group at Ryan Swanson.


Britenae Pierce is a member in Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC’s Employment Rights, Benefits and Labor Group, and she can be reached at 206.654.2289 or [email protected]


This message has been created by the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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