Fire all the “cripples” and the “fatties?!”

As I mentioned in my July post, the film Horrible Bosses has enough material for weeks’ worth of blog posts. With three atrocious bosses blatantly making the lives of their employees miserable and disregarding a long list of employment laws, it is certainly a plaintiffs’ attorney’s dream situation and an HR manager’s nightmare. I am sure the upcoming sequel will be full of blog material as well. This week, I turn my attention to the antics of Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), the cocaine-addicted son of business owner Jack Pellitt.

Unfortunately, when his kindly, family-oriented, and environmentally conscious father suddenly dies, Bobby is left to run the business. As it turns out, Bobby’s business approach includes snorting as much cocaine as possible, having his own harem of prostitutes present at the office at all times, disregarding necessary safety precautions for hazardous materials, and firing all the “cripples” and the “fatties.” Bobby even starts calling one wheelchair-bound employee “Professor Xavier” of X-Men fame. According to Bobby, “Roaming around all day in his special little secret chair, I know he’s up to something.”

Aside from the obvious environmental, Title VII, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues arising from Bobby’s bad behavior, it also raises the interesting issue of discrimination based on an individual’s weight. This has been a growing topic of conversation, given the rise in obesity rates in adults and children. Certain groups have been working to have obesity considered a protected class.  Although only a few state and local jurisdictions have chosen to pass laws expressly making obesity a protected class, recent litigation involving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that morbidly obese individuals may be able to claim protection under the ADA (as amended) in certain circumstances. Employers also should be wary of potential claims alleging that morbidly obese individuals were “regarded as” having a disability.

In the film, Bobby’s reign of terror is short-lived and comes to a surprising (and abrupt) conclusion. But you will have to check out the movie to find out what happens. In the meantime, you can look to Bobby as an excellent resource for what NOT to do in the workplace.