According to some reports, many heavy-set job seekers experience discrimination because of their weight — a bias that is legal in most cases. Here’s one municipality that’s attempting to change that.
The city council in Binghamton, NY recently passed a law banning employment discrimination on the basis of height or weight.
Many critics have decried the law as going too far, but other groups feel new protections like these are necessary.
Studies suggest this type of discrimination is common. For example, the journal Obesity recently reported that the number of people discriminated against because of their weight increased by 66% in the last 10 years — making obesity discrimination more common than, for example, racial bias.
Protection through federal law?
Though laws against weight-based discrimination are rare, managers who make hiring decisions based on physical appearance can still get their companies in legal trouble. Take these two examples:
- A manager has no problem hiring overweight men, but only approves of female candidates who are slender. That will likely put the company at risk of a gender discrimination lawsuit.
- A man is turned down for a job because of his weight — and it turns out his obesity is caused by an underlying medical problem, such as a metabolic disorder or a thyroid condition. That applicant may have a case for disability discrimination.