CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A 540-pound blackjack dealer did not face discrimination at the hands of Mardi Gras Casino because of his weight, state Supreme Court justices said in a ruling upholding a lower court's decision.
The plaintiff, identified only as Andrew O., filed a lawsuit against the casino after he was fired, claiming he was disabled. He worked at Mardi Gras for about two months in 2010.
According to court documents, the former dealer, age 22, was hired to work part time and was required to wear a company-issued uniform that consisted of a long-sleeved tuxedo shirt buttoned at the wrists and tucked into black pants, an apron and bow tie.
He claims to have struggled with his weight since he was 12 years old and said a thyroid disease caused his obesity. He also claimed to suffer from arthritis in his back and legs. He provided a doctor's statement concerning his weight problems.
When the casino was unable to find a shirt to fit Andrew O., he found one online in a size 7X and a Mardi Gras seamstress altered it even more to fit. However, he was still unable to get it tucked in or button the cuffs.
Also because of his weight, he was unable to walk to the employee break area in the 25 minutes allotted without "wearing out." He was then provided an alternate break area. His weight also made standing for long periods difficult and he was given a wheelchair-accessible blackjack table so he could sit down.
Andrew O. said he was still reprimanded by his immediate supervisors for failing to keep his shirt tucked and for not using the right break area. He was suspended for those infractions in June 2010 and after an investigation by management, was let go.
The circuit court order sided with Mardi Gras, saying the company had a "legitimate and non-discriminatory reason" to terminate him, including ensuring employees' uniformity and keeping employees away from public areas during breaks.
The Supreme Court affirmed that decision, saying the West Virginia Human Rights Act doesn't give specific protection to the obese and the casino made reasonable accommodations for Andrew O.
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