According to the Centers for Disease Control over one-third, 35.7%, of Americans are obese. (Tappero, 2013). Moreover, as stated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), two thirds of Americans, age 20 and older, may face health risks resulting from bring overweight (Foster, Makris, & Bailer, 2005). Many of these obese Americans will face bias and discrimination at their place of employment.
The objective of this research paper is to investigate workplace discrimination against obese employees. Specifically, this paper examines the extent to which employers discriminate against obese employees. Moreover, this paper analyzes how companies are accommodating the obese employee and promoting healthy lifestyles.
Workplace Obesity Discrimination:
Historically, Americans have been targets of discrimination for a variety of different reasons, including ethnicity, gender, and age. Societal perspectives have evolved over the years, and many of these prejudicial attitudes have been thwarted. Despite this trend toward equality, prejudicial attitudes and inequitable treatment of obese Americans are still evident today. Experts discern that “negative attitudes toward obese people constitute one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination.” (Friedman & Puhl, 2012).
Many Americans face bias and discrimination at their place of employment. Some have been told by their boss, "You're too fat" and been fired, even with good performance evaluations. Many overweight and obese individuals fear they may lose their jobs or make less than their coworkers. Some cannot get jobs, due to inequitable hiring practices. Furthermore, overweight employees have been offered lower salaries than employees who are not obese. The bottom line is that obese employees may be vulnerable to prejudicial attitudes and discrimination in the workplace.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has argued that weight discrimination may constitute a violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act and sex discrimination provisions of the Civil Right Act of 1964. For instance, a policy holding female flight attendants to more stringent weight standards than male flight attendants is one example of these concerns. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the United States does not recognize weight as a protected class. Furthermore, weight-based discrimination in the workplace does not provide the victims with a basis for a legal claim. (Pomeranz & Puhl, 2013).
Michigan is the only state that explicitly bars discrimination based on weight. However, six cities in the U.S., including San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Madison, WI, either unambiguously forbid discrimination based on weight, or forbid discrimination based on the appearance of individual employees. (Tappero, 2013). In Nevada, it is anticipated that legislation making it illegal to discriminate based on weight will be passed in the near future. (Tappero, 2013). All...