My Two Cents: McDonald's settles lawsuit with fat guy

McDonald’s announced last week that it had settled a lawsuit alleging it had discriminated against a 420-pound man who said he was denied a job in one of its restaurants due to its weight.

After doing some digging, I discovered McDonald’s didn’t exactly treat this guy well during the hiring process, with that man – Joseph Connor – responding by being all too willing to play the victim in order to cash in.
It seems that in September 2000, Connor was offered a job as a cook at a McDonald’s in Hamden, Conn., but was told he’d have to wait a few days to start, in order for his size 54 pants – part of his employee uniform – to arrive. Months went by without Connor getting his pants.

McDonald’s says Connor got lost in the shuffle when the company sold the Hamden restaurant to a franchisee. So, in a sense, Connor’s girth did in fact cost him his job.

Not surprisingly, in 2002 Connor filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, saying McDonald’s violated the law by refusing to hire him because it perceived his obesity as a disability, which he says it is not. Amazingly, Connor also claims McDonald’s violated Connecticut’s Fair Employment Practices Act by refusing to hire him because it perceived his obesity as a disability, which he says it is.

And why would Connor make the simultaneous claim that his fatness is a disability and not a disability? There are 300,000 reasons I can think of. Alleging financial loss and emotional distress, Connor sought $300,000 in damages, back pay, and employment at McDonald’s.

Not that I condone Mickey D’s shabby treatment of the guy when he was ostensibly hired, but only in America could some guy present contradictory views of his condition in a blatant attempt to extract the greatest financial reward possible.

It seems these days, various conditions – obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction – are viewed differently depending on circumstances. As for myself, I don’t believe obesity is a disability on par with say a missing limb or blindness. Obesity, like alcoholism and drug addiction, is in my opinion a self-inflicted condition (the body doesn’t manufacture fat on its own), and I don’t believe it was meant to be covered under the ADA.

What I think doesn’t matter, as McDonald’s has declined to discuss the amount of damages it paid.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.