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Employment Discrimination Report Discussions on Recent Legislation, Noteworthy Cases & Trends in Enforcement

Employers May be Missing a Star Employee by Refusing to Hire the Overweight

Posted in Employee Hiring

In our 3/27 blog entry we asked whether discrimination against the obese should be illegal.  In response to that blog post, we received a rather poignant comment from a reader who commented that she has lost many jobs, after the initial telephone interviews went well, simply because she is overweight.  She also noted that many interviewers assumed that she had no abilities to plan and make goals simply because she is overweight.

 

Although we cannot speak to this reader’s particular qualifications, her comment made us think about what employers may be missing by refusing to hire the overweight.  Forgetting for one second whether anti-discrimination laws apply, is being overweight really any indication that someone would not be good at a job?  Can’t we all think of some very successful person who was overweight?

 

For example, we are sure that Oprah would prefer to be thought of as the leader of a massive publishing and entertainment empire, rather than as a person who has fought weight issues.  However, Oprah’s weight struggles were very publicly laid out on her television show — the show that ran for 25 seasons and is the highest rated talk show in television history.

 

In the midst of gaining and losing all of that weight, Oprah built that empire to a net personal worth of $2.7 billion (yes, billion, with a "b").

 

All of this begs the question:  how many employers have let the next mega-star employee slip through their fingers simply because of weight? 

 

Now, we’ll get off of our soap boxes and resume normal programming.