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Two Links: Fat & Disability Discrimination US/AU

Earlier this week it was reported that a highway foreman in Ohio died from complications of a weight loss surgery. The man was suspended because he fell asleep on the job, though he had sleep apnea and worked long hours. He felt as though the county was treating him unfairly.

"Your decision arises out of your bias against me because of my disability," Huneck wrote in an April 20 note obtained by The Enquirer from the Clermont County township.

And the bias probably also had to do with his weight, given his lawyer's comment below:

He "was subject to some bullying - significant bullying - in his workplace as a result of his physical comportment, his stature," Thompson told The Enquirer. "He was trying to resolve those through this surgery..."

If I read this article correctly, it seems as though the weight loss surgery--WHICH HE DIED FROM--was not only to resolve sleep apnea. Huneck, who was very emotionally hurt by the suspension, also wanted to change his body so that he, a grown man, would not be bullied, ridiculed, harassed, AND PUNISHED by his colleagues. Who can blame him for not wanting to be treated so poorly? But now he's dead... It's sad to me that these kinds of things undoubtedly take place all the time.

There is also a story out of Australia to report. Feminists With Disabilities for a way forward reports:

Maz Smyth was rolling along one day in her manual wheelchair, as one does, when her front wheel got caught in a pothole and snapped off. Understandably annoyed by this turn of events, she approached the Toowoomba Regional Council to ask them to fix the pothole and pay the costs associated with fixing her chair.

Ms. Smyth kept going to the council and they kept telling her to go away, until they finally told her she could file a report though nothing would ever come of it.   "Perhaps it was your weight that caused the wheelchair to break," a council staff member then told her. She was rebuffed until the Mayor saw The Chronicle covering the story and getting a photoshoot outside City Hall. As s.e. smith aptly writes over at FWD:

A thousand tiny cuts like this happen all over the world every day and we never find out about them, because a single person usually cannot raise enough of a ruckus. It isn’t until a larger entity like the media, a disability rights organisation, or a famous person steps in that action is taken. Even here, the Mayor didn’t acknowledge her humanity or her right to access. He made it seem like she was getting a favour by having her chair fixed.
The problem here is being treated as individual, rather than structural, and people will continue to experience accessibility problems as a result.

h/t to sexgenderbody

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chondros July 21st, 2010 | Link | Two great examples of how

Two great examples of how things that would likely be overlooked if someone were thin -- municipal employee nodding off, wheelchair caught in pothole -- become a big deal when someone is fat.

It's the hardest part of being fat, I think. You have no margin for error, at least with some people. You're not allowed to make human mistakes.

AndyJo's picture
July 21st, 2010 | Link | So... Call me crazy but...

What about a CPAP machine? There could also be a story here regarding what the doctors did or did not do. Why operate when you can give the man a device to help him sleep? That would have helped fix the apnea problem. Right? Probably would have been cheaper, right?

Somehow I think that there is even more pathos to this story.

--Andy Jo--

Alyssa July 21st, 2010 | Link | Sleep Apnea

Andy Jo,
Good point about the CPAP machine. Also, what about the drug Provigil which is prescribed for those with sleep apnea for whom the CPAP doesn't work or isn't completely effective? I'm not trying to promote a particular drug, but rather follow on your comments about the quality of care this individual received and the range of options he was (or wasn't) offered to deal with apnea.


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