Seventh Circuit Finds ADA Limited to Current, Perceived Disabilities, Not Future Ones

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals further limited application of the Americans with Disabilities Act this month. Earlier this year the court held that obesity alone is not a protected disability. Its recent decision in Shell v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company shows the ADA protects a person who has a disability or is perceived to have a disability, not someone whose employer fears may develop a disability at some point in the future. The case centers around Ronald Shell who worked as a heavy machine operator in a railyard for 33 years. When BNSF bought his former employer, Shell’s conditional offer of employment was withdrawn when a medical exam found he had a body mass index over 40. Read more about the case and how employers should tread carefully when making decisions based on an employee’s likelihood of developing a disability.