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Has Your Weight Caused Workplace Discrimination? Employment and the Law

Posted on in Employment

If you feel you've been discriminated against at work due to your weight, there are a number of possible remedies under the law. How this is addressed is not just a matter of Employment Law, but legal redress can be sought through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to an article by NOLO, although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the morbidly obese from employment discrimination, it does not protect the overweight or obese. Morbid obesity's generally accepted definition is a body mass index of 40 or more, or approximately 100 pounds overweight from the standard tables. Those who land over normal ranges, but below that standard have a harder time declaring their weight a disability.

However, if you have a medical condition which is linked to weight gain (or even excessive weight loss), and can prove you were discriminated against because of either the weight or the medical condition, the ADA absolutely comes into play.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has used the ADA more than once, including bringing suit against a Louisiana firm in 2010 on behalf of an employee who the EEOC stated was fired due to her "severe obesity." The Commission alledged that "the employer perceived her as being substantially limited in a number of major life activities, including walking."

Michigan is the only state that has language in their civil rights legislation that explicitly prohibits discrimination in the workplace due to weight. However, more than one case has been brought under Title VII, which prohibits discrimination due to gender. Weight standards, in particular, appear to have a higher impact on women.

Discrimination of this type can lead to negative health consequences, and diminish your quality of life. If you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace, contact us. We may be able to help.

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