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Thinking about weight discrimination in the workplace

When you think about discrimination in the workplace, what kinds of scenarios spring to mind? Perhaps you think about an individual in a managerial capacity sexually harassing an individual who reports to him or her. Perhaps you think about a young, cocky boss firing an employee due to his or her age. Or perhaps you think about inappropriate racially-driven comments made at the expense of minorities in the workplace.

Unfortunately, these scenarios occur with startling frequency. Thankfully, employment discrimination law protects each of the victims in these scenarios from this kind of treatment. As a result, the victims in these scenarios may generally opt to sue in order to hold violators accountable under state and federal law. However, certain victims of unacceptable forms of workplace discrimination are not always protected by law. For example, depending on where they are employed, workers may not be protected from weight-related discrimination in the workplace.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over two-thirds of American adults are overweight. It would be logical to assume that the vast majority of a population would not be treated as targets for discrimination. However, discriminatory behavior is rarely logical. A newly released study indicates that even though the vast majority of the American workforce is overweight, overweight women specifically are facing severe wage discrimination as a result of their weight.

Not all weight-related discrimination is illegal under current law. However, instances of weight-related discrimination may be illustrative of more prevalent discriminatory practices. As a result, it is important for victims of weight-related discrimination to speak with attorneys experienced in employment law about their legal options.

Source: Pay Scale, “Fat Discrimination at Work Just as Bad as Ever, Especially for Women,” Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, Nov. 11, 2014

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