Weight Discrimination at Work

What to do if you think you have been discriminated against at work because of your weight:

  • Start a file. Gather together all of your employment records, especially your job evaluations. If the employer claims that your weight prevents you from doing the job, you need to show that you have been performing all the required duties.
  • Take notes. If a colleague, supervisor, or employer speaks to you about your job performance, or about your weight or appearance, write down the date, time, names of people present, and what was said to the best of your recollection. The sooner you write it down, the more likely it is to be accurate and credible.
  • Address the issue. Make an appointment with the appropriate person to talk about the problem. Act polite, but be assertive. Do not act defensive. Do not be confrontational. Describe the events, trends, statements, evaluations, or actions that are making you feel that there is a problem. Ask the other person whether your perception is accurate. If they say it is, then ask what can be done to solve the problem.
  • If you think your size is the issue, but it has never been mentioned, ask your employer directly if this is the problem. Again, do not act defensive. Remember, the problem here is that your employer is prejudiced, not that there is anything wrong with you.
  • If nothing can be resolved, inform your employer, politely, that you consider this to be unfair treatment, and that you intend to take steps to address it.
  • Look into and follow the employee grievance procedures for your company.
  • Contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office (800-669-3362) and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
  • The Council has a small list of attorneys who have dealt with size discrimination cases, but if there is no one on the list near your area, ask your local chapter of the American Bar Association (or a local attorney referral service) to refer you to a lawyer who specializes in employment discrimination. Go to absent.org.
  • Read the books and articles listed in the Council’s bibliography on size discrimination, including the summaries of major court cases. Make this and all other information available to your attorney. Keep copies of everything you give your attorney.
  • Even though there are very few laws and ordinances which prohibit size discrimination, there have been many successful court cases against employers who discriminate against their large-size employees. The Council is happy to act as a consultant to individuals and attorneys involved in weight discrimination cases, and asks that you keep us informed about your case.

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Statistics on Discrimination
Studies on Discrimination
Employment (currently open)
Rude Businesspeople
Denial of Insurance
Airline Seating
Public Accommodations
Discrimination FAQ
Taking Legal Action
Weight Discrimination Bibliography