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Weight discrimination issues need to be clearly addressed


Workplace discrimination law has evolved to reflect changing societal attitudes. For example, some of the first characteristics to be protected by law were race, nationality and religion, because recognized discrimination among these groups was so widespread. Then, the law began to recognize discrimination against women and the disabled.

Currently, employment law is turning towards protecting the LGBT community, the elderly and those who are obese, because legislators have yet to clearly define what protection these groups may benefit from until now.

Obese Americans suffer from discrimination in the workplace far too often. But they currently have less legal protection against this kind of treatment than other protected classes do. This has led many to question how best to address the issue of weight discrimination in the workplace.

Those employees who are morbidly obese - defined as being 100 percent or greater than what is considered a healthy weight for their height - are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, more than one-third of the population is classified as obese, not morbidly obese.

And even though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently won some cases related to obesity discrimination in the workplace, legislators must address this issue on a broader scale in order to protect this significant segment of the population.

Addressing this particular kind of discrimination will not be easy; partially because weight is a sensitive topic and may or may not be a lifestyle choice. However, employees all over America deserve to know in what ways they are protected and how to exercise their rights regarding this issue.

Source: Huffington Post, "Obesity Discrimination On The Job Provokes Dispute Over Best Remedy," Christina Wilke, Oct. 4, 2012

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