Nov 06, 2009
Court of Appeal requires underlying physiological cause as prerequisite to maintaining claim for employment discrimination based on “perceived” disability

Hines v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 8865 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five) [unpublished]. GMSR won affirmance of client MTA’s summary judgment in an employment discrimination action. Plaintiff alleged that MTA wrongfully discriminated against her because of her obesity. The evidence established that her obesity had no underlying medical cause, but resulted from life style choices. She relied on statutory language defining “perceived” disability as “any physical condition” that limited a major life activity. (Gov. Code § 12926(k)(4).) By analyzing a voluminous legislative history to explain the genesis of the phrase and its contexual significance, GMSR was able to convince the Court of Appeal that the phrase “any physical condition” relates only to conditions with an underlying physiological cause.