Australian morbidly obese man wins job back

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A worker who was dismissed for being at high-risk of a heart attack due to his obesity has won his job back.

In an appeal decision handed down by the Supreme Court last week, Justice Margaret McMurdo overturned a previous decision to uphold the dismissal of the obese worker.

Last November the Supreme Court upheld the Curragh Mine’s decision to dismiss heavy-machinery operator Ian Mattson, who had failed a mandatory fitness assessment in March 2011. An employer-appointed medical officer found he was ‘permanently unfit for his position or any position and no further review was necessary’, and Mattson was dismissed as a result.

A notice was written to Mattson explaining the decision after the assessment found the worker weighed 163kg, and had a body mass index (BMI) and neck circumference well outside a healthy range. “I have made you unfit for operating duties as I believe that there is a significant risk to you of a cardiac event due to your obesity,” the letter said.

In the original court judgment, it was found that the worker’s BMI and neck circumference meant he faced a “statistical risk” of a cardiac arrest. Yet Justice McMurdo ruled that the worker's BMI and neck circumference were not critical items on the health assessment form, and overturned the dismissal as a result. “I observe that the primary judge seems to have mistakenly thought that ‘BMI’ was part of the form,” she said.

“I'm a very fit man,” Mr Mattson told the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin following the ruling.

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