Although racial and gender discrimination occur in the workplace, employees can also be treated unfairly based on their appearance. Weight discrimination can have a negative impact on hiring decisions, promotions and workplace assignments. Some workers can even face harassment or other disparaging comments from coworkers and bosses.
In a Huffington Post article, a school counselor discussed the turmoil she faced on the job due to being overweight. According to the counselor, her boss made regular comments about her weight, claiming her life was “out of control”. In one instance, her boss even threatened to fire her if she did not lose weight. These unwelcome comments made the worker feel alienated, ashamed and scared for her job.
In an effort to save her career, the woman desperately attempted to lose weight, shedding an astonishing 100 pounds. Even after she lost weight, her boss became more hostile and eventually forced her to resign.
Why Weight Discrimination is Illegal
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) considers obesity a disability, which means obese workers are protected against discrimination. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires some employers to accommodate disabled workers.
Like other forms of discrimination, workers can file claims with the EEOC or state agencies. After complaints are filed, the EEOC or state agencies may carry out investigations. In the instance the EEOC or state agencies decline to pursue a case, workers may be able to file lawsuits against their employers.
By compiling evidence of discrimination, such as keeping detailed notes or emails of name-calling, harassment or other evidence of wrongdoing, it can be easier to hold discriminatory employers accountable for their actions.