A recent commentator noted that according to surveys "weight bias" is widespread in employment, with some reporting that within the continuum of employees who were overweight to severely obese there was a 12 to 100 times more likelihood of discrimination. Only one state – Michigan -outlaws weight discrimination in employment, as do a small number of municipalities.
Some plaintiffs, as well as the EEOC, have also taken the position that weight discrimination may violate the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), if, for example, the employee’s weight substantially impairs a major life activity. Moreover, it may be coupled with conditions caused or exacerbated by obesity, such as hypertension or diabetes, which have been held to be disabling.
Another related area of the law that is still undeveloped is so-called "beauty bias," or "appearance discrimination" — bias one way or another based upon appearance, which, again, surveys show exists in the workplace to a large degree. More on that later!
Should employment discrimination based upon weight or appearance be illegal?
Please give us your comments!