The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled Mardi Gras Casino isn’t guilty of discrimination after it fired a 540-lbs. blackjack dealer for being physically unable to wear his uniform in accordance with the casino’s dress code and lingering in public areas during breaks. The dealer, identified only as “Andrew O.,” said he’s been struggling with his weight since he was 12 years old, and has a thyroid condition that’s contributed to his obesity.
According to The Charleston Daily Mail, “When the casino was unable to find a shirt to fit Andrew O., he found one online in a size 7X and a Mardi Gras seamstress altered it even more to fit. However, he was still unable to get it tucked in or button the cuffs,” which were mandatory parts of his uniform.
The report continued, “Also because of his weight, he was unable to walk to the employee break area in the 25 minutes allotted without "wearing out." He was then provided an alternate break area. His weight also made standing for long periods difficult and he was given a wheelchair-accessible blackjack table so he could sit down.”
The circuit court that heard the case ruled in favor of the casino, and the Supreme Court did too, holding that the West Virginia Human Rights Act doesn’t give specific protection to obese men and women.
Employment Law Daily agreed with the verdict, explaining, “The lower court correctly found these reasons wholly unrelated to the employee’s obesity, particularly given that the hirer and firer were the same individual, and the termination came within a relatively short period of time after the initial hire. Under these circumstances, the law allows for a strong inference that discrimination was not a determining factor in the adverse action. Because that inference applied here, summary judgment for the casino was affirmed.”