BNSF Railway Co. v. FeitAnnotate this Case
The United States District Court for the District of Montana, Helena Division certified the following question to this Court: "Is obesity that is not the symptom of a physiological condition a 'physical or mental impairment' as it is used in Montana Code Annotated 49-2-101(19)(a)?" Respondent Eric Feit filed an administrative complaint with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (Department) alleging that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) illegally discriminated against him because of perceived disability. A hearing officer for the Department entered summary disposition in favor of Respondent, concluding that "BNSF engaged in and is liable for a discriminatory refusal to hire Feit because it regarded him as disabled" and awarded damages for lost wages and benefits, prejudgment interest, and emotional distress. BNSF filed an unsuccessful appeal with the Montana Human Rights Commission, which was then presented to the U.S. District Court. Upon review, the Montana Supreme Court accepted the certified question and answered it "yes."