Weight Discrimination in the Workplace

Typically, when individuals think of discrimination in the workplace - race, religion, and/or gender immediately come to mind.  However, some employees are facing discrimination due to their weight.  According to a recent article in Fast Company titled "The Hidden Discrimination Against Being Fat At Work":

Numerous studies have found that obese and overweight people experience all manner of discrimination at work, and much of it is perfectly legal. Some struggle to find a job at all. In recent years, employers like Victoria Hospital in Texas have explicitly stated that they won't hire anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 35 (about 220 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-6), which is far from a foolproof predictor of good health.
Those who do manage to land a job are less likely to be offered a salary bump or promotion compared to their slimmer peers. Obesity was found to lower a woman's annual earnings an average of 4.5% and men's earnings as much as 2.3%, according to a 2004 study by Charles L. Baum of Middle Tennessee State University. Some pundits have argued that this may be the last accepted form of prejudice in the U.S.

As the above quote states the discrimination directed towards individuals who do not conform to society "weight requirements" is unfortunately legal in most states, like Michigan, because being overweight/obese is not a protected class like race or gender.  

To ensure a thriving and pleasant workplace, management should remain conscious of any discriminatory actions, overt or covert, being exhibited upon employees regardless if it is legal.  Additionally, HR departments should take heed to any workplace complaints because while legal - it may accelerate to an illegal hostile work environment.

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