People have a right to feel comfortable and welcome at their place of work. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for individuals with disabilities and that these individuals are not treated unfairly. And while discrimination issues such as race, gender or sexual orientation may be the more commonly discussed types of discrimination, there is a demographic that is often overlooked when it comes to employee rights: overweight Americans.
Although one state, Michigan, protects overweight workers from discrimination, there are only six other cities in the country that can boast any form of legal protection for overweight workers. San Francisco is one of those cities where employee rights extend to obese individuals. However, while it is illegal in San Francisco to discriminate against workers with weight problems, mediation is the only mechanism of enforcement, meaning that individuals cannot go to the federal court and sue their employers for weight discrimination. While it isn’t an adequate remedy to ending this sort of discrimination, it is more than what is being done in most of the country.
Our society is progressing at a fairly rapid rate in terms of equality. While incredible strides have been made to battle inequality and discrimination, the battle is far from over where larger individuals are concerned. The problem with weight is that it is often a matter of subjective opinion. People are born differently with various traits that can affect their weight, but many people perceive weight problems to be a matter of choice, rather than a matter of biology.
Sadly, it takes time for change. Still, nobody should have to worry about being judged or discriminated against based on their appearance, whether it’s the color of their skin or the amount they weigh.
Source: Pacific Standard, “You Don’t Have a Right to Be Obese at Work,” Jake Blumgart, April 08, 2014