The Fair Work Commission has ruled obese forklift driver Ranui Parahi was fairly dismissed because his weight created a workplace safety issue, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Parahi, who worked as a cool room operator for dairy business Parmalat, weighed 165 kilograms when the organisation sought the services of an occupational therapist to assess Parahi and other employees.
Parahi was assessed as “medium to high risk” with the occupational therapist raising concerns the forklift driver may not be able to perform his work safely and competently as a result of his weight, which exceeded the forklift’s maximum weight safety ratings.
The occupational therapist also took into account a cardiologist’s report which had indicated Parahi had “severe obstructive sleep apnoea that may pose a problem with operating mobile machinery.”
It was advised Parahi should only conduct “semi-sedentary-type work” which did not require any heavy manual handling or operating mobile machinery for full-time hours.
Parmalat stood Parahi down in February 2014 for 10 months, and dismissed him in May 2015 saying, “Parmalat is not able to hold a position for you indefinitely” and “there is no positive prognosis for a return to normal duties in the foreseeable future.”
Parahi claimed he had been unfairly dismissed, but the Fair Work Commission found the sacking was justified.
Parahi also claimed he was seeking surgery concerning his obesity at the time of his dismissal, and after having surgery in June 2015 he lost 20 kilograms, but the Fair Work Commission said this did not change their ruling.
“There was a valid reason to dismiss [Parahi] on the basis of [his] incapacity concerning the inherent requirements of his position.” The Fair Work Commission found.