Question According to the Centers for Disease Control over one-third, 35.7%, of Americans are obese. (Tappero, 2013). Moreover, as stated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), two thirds of Americans, age 20 and older, may face health risks resulting from bring overweight (Foster, Makris, & Bailer, 2005). Many of these obese Americans will face bias and discrimination at their place of employment. The objective of this research paper is to investigate workplace discrimination against obese employees. Specifically, this paper examines the extent to which employers discriminate against obese employees. Moreover, this paper analyzes how companies are accommodating the obese employee and promoting healthy lifestyles.
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The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has argued that weight discrimination may constitute a violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act and sex discrimination provisions of the Civil Right Act of 1964. For instance, a policy holding female flight attendants to more stringent weight standards than male flight attendants is one example of these concerns. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the United States does not recognize weight as a protected class. Furthermore, weight-based discrimination in the workplace does not provide the victims with a basis for a legal claim. (Pomeranz & Puhl, 2013). Michigan is the only state that explicitly bars discrimination based on weight. However, six cities in the U.S., including San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Madison, WI, either unambiguously forbid discrimination based on weight, or forbid discrimination based on the appearance of individual employees. (Tappero, 2013). In Nevada, it is anticipated that legislation making it illegal to discriminate based on weight will be passed in the near future. (Tappero, 2013). All of these legal developments are encouraging, and indicate that the necessary measures are being taken to inhibit obesity discrimination in the employment context.
Accommodating Obese Employees: The obesity epidemic has infiltrated the workplace. As a result, companies and legislatures are developing ways to address the needs of the obese employee.