Man allegedly fired for being obese - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Man allegedly fired for being obese

HOUSTON (KHOU/CNN) - The federal government has filed a lawsuit against a company that may have fired a Texas man for being overweight.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it dismissed Ronald Kratz, who worked as a materials handler for BAE Systems.

Kratz weighed 680 pounds two years ago, but now weighs less than 300 pounds. He took his severance pay and had weight reduction surgery.

"The HR representative's exact words were, 'We're letting you go due to your weight,'" Kratz said about his firing. 

The EEOC says the law is very clear.

"The law wants people to be judged on their abilities to do their jobs. Mister Kratz could do his job," said Kathy Boutchee, an Equal Employment Opportunity attorney.

Representatives with BAE said the company believes it acted "lawfully."

In statement, the company said: "Given that the issue is the subject of pending litigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further. BAE systems takes pride the diversity of the company and in supporting employees with disabilities."

"The employer has to show that they made some reasonable effort to accommodate him and, if they can prove that, the employer will win," said legal analyst Gerald Treece.

"I think companies need to be held responsible for the way they treat their employees," Kratz said.

Kratz says people with a disability should not be fired solely because of that disability.

"Having to watch my wife cry and my kids cry, I mean, not being able to provide for my family," he said.

For Kratz, that is the toughest burden of all.

In the lawsuit, he is asking for his job back, and is also seeking back pay and unspecified damages.  

Copyright 2011 KHOU via CNN. All rights reserved.

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