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Is weight discrimination in the workplace legal?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | Employment Law

Federal and state laws protect California workers from several forms of workplace discrimination. However, obesity discrimination is not one of them, leaving affected workers vulnerable to mistreatment.

Weight discrimination creates a highly stressful work environment for victims, often affecting their morale and productivity.

What industries engage in weight discrimination?

Employees can experience weight discrimination in any workplace. However, industries with social or customer-focused elements are particularly susceptible. These include:

  • Bars
  • Offices
  • Night clubs
  • Medical facilities
  • Fine dining restaurants

Just about any industry with a heavy focus on the appearance of staff members is prone to some form of weight discrimination. Sometimes, the employer discriminates against the employee, but co-workers, supervisors and even customers also discriminate against the obese.

Are any remedies available for victims?

As mentioned previously, no federal or state laws specifically protect obese employees. Still, a solution may be in your grasp. If your weight is a side effect of a medical condition or a treatment, you might have grounds for a disability discrimination complaint.

Medical conditions that can cause obesity include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Prescribed treatments leading to obesity include:

  • Steroids
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Diabetes medications

If you believe you are the target of weight discrimination in your workplace, you will benefit from professional guidance. With help, it may be possible to connect your obesity to a disability protected under federal or California law. Until obesity and other weight disorders fall under state or federal protection, this is one of the only ways to fight back.

If successful, you can keep the job you need and improve your working conditions. We also urge you to stay informed about workplace discrimination and its remedies.