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Role Of Appearance In The Hiring Process

2516 words - 10 pages

Looks and appearance have always dominated Hollywood culture and the actors and actresses that play roles in movies; also the popularity contest among teens in high-school. Bulimia and anorexia plague women and men throughout the United States. Today’s society is dominated by the obsession of appearances. But how far has this fixation gone? Has this Hollywood mentality taken over the otherwise standard way of running a business and the process of hiring one’s employees in a way not determined by weight? For a country becoming one of the fattest countries in the world and a country based on equal opportunities for all, the collision of these two topics is inevitable.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is at 9.8% as of November 2010. This high unemployment rate creates a high demand for jobs. This high demand allows for employers to become selective in whom they hire. Michigan is the only state which has issued a state law prohibiting discrimination of hiring based on weight. The question is will other states follow suit. Cities such as San Francisco have also issued weight discrimination laws prohibiting unfairness to those who are overweight. But a national implication has not yet taken place. Scholars today, take the side of changing “unfair” treatment and exposing weight discrimination as a problem that bothers society today.
Rebecca Puhl, PhD, is the Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Her article “Public Opinion about Laws to Prohibit Weight Discrimination in the United States” addresses discrimination of overweight people comparing it as equal to rates of discrimination of race. Puhl starts off the article introducing the topic of weight-based discrimination which leads into the survey she created which questions people’s thoughts about potential legislative measures extending protection to people with disabilities as people with physical disabilities. She says, “obese persons are stereotyped as being lazy, unintelligent, unsuccessful, and lacking in self-discipline.” These harmful assumptions leave a person exposed to prejudice and discrimination. Puhl states that years of research reveal that obese employees are “less likely to be hired, less likely to be promoted, and paid less than thinner employees, even with identical qualifications, education, credentials, and job performance.” She states that discrimination increases as weight gain increases. Puhl reveals that “overweight adults are twelve times more likely, obese adults are thirty-seven times more likely, and severely obese adults are one-hundred times more likely to report employment discrimination compared to normal weight respondents.” Despite these countless occurrences of weight discrimination, it is not illegal to discriminate on the basis of weight. Some employees have filed lawsuits, mostly unsuccessful, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),...

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