Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Are Overweight Employees Protected from Workplace Discrimination?

By Dan Atkerson on October 22, 2019

An overweight woman working on her laptopAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 71.6 percent of adults are overweight, and 39.8 percent are obese. That is a significant portion of the American population. Sadly, people may shame or bully others over their weight. It’s cruel in general, but fat shaming and teasing is especially cruel when it occurs at the workplace.

Employment law attorney Dan A. Atkerson would like to consider the employment discrimination faced by the obese and overweight. You can count on our Allen, TX law firm to help if you have faced any sort of mistreatment over your weight.

Are There Laws Protecting Obese and Overweight Employees?

At the moment, there are very few laws that explicitly protect obese and overweight people from workplace discrimination or harassment. According to a 2017 article in Time Magazine, Michigan is the only state with explicit laws on the books protecting people who are obese or overweight from discrimination at the workplace.

Even if there is no explicit laws protecting obese and overweight individuals from workplace discrimination, certain basic protections do apply to these individuals. These general protections help ensure good work conditions free from bullying and harassment. Remember that our Allen law firm is here to listen to you.

Possible Discrimination in the Hiring Process

The Time article we cited above notes that a person’s weight and body type can impact their performance during job interviews. Specifically, the article states that men are more critical of overweight women in the hiring process.

In many professions, physical appearance does not have a bearing on performance or reflect on your qualifications. A person’s resume and demonstrations of competence are the most important aspects of their ability to do a job.

Harassment and Toxic Work Environments for Overweight Employees

Overweight and obese employees may be subject to bullying and harassment while on the job. This could take the form of name-calling, snide comments, pranks, gossip, and being made to feel unwelcome. This kind of harassment is never acceptable, and no one should have to tolerate this kind of toxic behavior from co-workers.

Failure of a Workplace to Make Reasonable Accommodations

People who are obese or overweight may need some accommodations to be made given their size. This is usually as simple as getting a more comfortable office chair or other minor adjustments to their workspace. If an employer refuses to make these reasonable accommodations for an employee, this could be considered a type of workplace discrimination.

What to Do If You Are Mistreated or Harassed

Those victimized on the job because of their weight should report all incidents to HR and/or their supervisor. Keep a log of what occurred so it can be dealt with promptly and backed up by evidence.

If HR does not take any steps to rectify the situation, that’s when you can consider speaking to a lawyer.

Why Working with an Employment Attorney Is Essential

Even though there are no explicit laws protecting the overweight and obese, our law firm is here to help. Those who have faced harassment, bullying, and discrimination due to their weight can turn to our Allen employment law firm for help.

Contact an Employee Discrimination Lawyer

If you have been mistreated, harassed, and/or discriminated against at your workplace, contact a skilled employment discrimination lawyer. The team at the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson is here to help. You can reach us by phone at (214) 273-1956.

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