Weight Discrimination in the Workplace
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States. As a matter of fact, about 1/3 of Americans are considered morbidly obese. This is why it may be surprising that weight discrimination in the workplace is so rampant. Not only is it rampant, there are no federal laws that expressly prohibit this type of discrimination against employees or job applicants by employers, CEOs, supervisors/managers, co-workers, clients/customers, or other non-employees.
The good news is that the EEOC and state and local laws have caught onto the issues regarding obesity and size discrimination and realize that there are other medical conditions related to obesity that can be considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Acts or other state or city laws.
We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and calm their fears. We have recovered over $165,000,000 for our clients and we want to help you too. Contact us today for your free consultation. We will never turn a client away because you cannot afford to pay. Instead, we only get paid when you win your case.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has recently found that severe obesity, which is two times the normal weight, are considered disabled under updated Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments. When an employee or job applicant is denied a position, promotion, project, or is harassed and criticized on a regular basis by an employer, CEO, supervisor or manager, co-worker, client or customer, or other non-employee, then he or she is the victim of weight discrimination.
Yet, severe obesity is not the only disability encountered by people that are overweight and experiencing weight discrimination in the workplace. You may have other issues that are related to your weight or obesity concerns. For instance, you may have diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, a thyroid problem, or any other medically diagnosed condition that is directly related to you being overweight.
While the ADA only recognizes severe obesity as a disability, any of the illnesses mentioned above and other medically diagnosed illness, including psychological issues, are covered under the ADA. This means that if you are overweight with a medical health concern and work for a company with 15 or more employees, you may have a claim for obesity discrimination.
- Your co-worker constantly making jokes about overweight people
- Your supervisor insisting that you lose a few pounds before he allows you to work on an assignment
- Your employer’s company policy that will prohibit weight gains of 15 pounds or more for any employee
- Your CEO will not promote you because he feels you present the wrong image for the company
- Your supervisor fired you because he thinks you will be unable to complete your work because of your weight
- Your supervisor refuses to give you a raise because he says you will use your money to buy more unhealthy foods
Federal discrimination laws protect employees and job applicants from weight and obesity discrimination in the workplace as long as there are 15 or more employees. The ADA insists that an employer accommodate an employee’s disability within reason.
In the case of complications relating to obesity or severe obesity, your employer will have to allow you opportunities to use the facilities as needed, attend doctor’s appointments within reason, take medications when is it necessary, make sure seats, desks, and cubicles accommodate you and your size, and other accommodations as appropriately requested.
In addition to accommodations, companies are not permitted to fire you or retaliate against you because of your disabilities, whether it be severe obesity or related medical issues.
Several states are also seeing obesity and severe obesity as its own disability and enacting laws that protect employees and job applicants from weight discrimination and harassment at work. To learn more about whether your state has protections or your weight-related disability is covered under federal laws, contact the attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group for a free consultation.
When working with a weight discrimination attorney, you will want to know what you can expect to gain from this case. Courts may offer some of the following remedies for your obesity discrimination claim:
- Reinstatement of employment/benefits
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Review and revamping of the company policy
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
As a victim of weight discrimination in your workplace, you have rights. Many states and the EEOC have determined that obesity comes with physiological issues that can be covered through the Americans with Disabilities Act. To start your case, here are some things you should do right now.
- Contact an experienced weight discrimination attorney immediately. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the legal system and meet any deadlines that are in place to make sure your case is heard.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job without consulting with your attorney first. Your attorney will advise you of the effects on your case, both positive and negative, of you leaving your job voluntarily.
- File a written complaint for size discrimination with your HR department. This serves two purposes, First, you show the courts you allowed your employer to correct the situation. It also helps your case if they ignore your complaint or do little to correct the problem.
- If your company has a weight discrimination policy, follow it. Once again, following all the rules set forth by your company will only help your case when the issue is not corrected.
- Gather as much evidence as possible. Document every incident. Include what happened, when and where it occurred, who was involved, and whether there were any witnesses.
- Do not waste time. ADA claims are provided a time limit of 180 days to 300 days, depending on the state, to file a claim with the EEOC. Do not wait until it is too late.
Obesity is hard enough without dealing with the blatant harassment and discrimination that your workplace allows. You deserve a work environment where you are noticed for your work product and work ethic as opposed to the size of your waist. The reality is, even if a federal law expressly forbade weight discrimination, employers would still openly discriminate against people who are overweight.
The experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group understand the importance of your rights and help you fight for them. For over 25 years, we have fought with tenacity, advocating for our clients to get them the compensation they deserve.
We secured a settlement in excess of $15,000,000 on behalf of a client. We want to use our exceptional legal skills to fight for you and help you secure a settlement that can help you get back on your feet and move on with your life. Whether you are in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, or New Jersey, the attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group are ready to take your call.
No employee deserves to be discriminated against or harassed because of their weight, especially when it does not affect his or her work product. If you are the victim of weight discrimination in the workplace, the experienced lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (800) 807-2209 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.