Sizeism Is Real In The Workplace

When you think of discrimination, age, race, sex, and sexual orientation are some of the first things that come to mind. But those are not the only types of discrimination that occur in the employment arena. You may be being discriminated against based on the fact that you are very different in size from others in the workplace. This is most commonly referred to as sizeism. Are you a victim and what can you do about it? Here is some information you may want to consider. 

What Exactly Is Sizeism?

Sizeism is any type of discrimination that occurs based on your physical size. While this is most commonly used to target people who are obese, you also could be victimized if you are too short, too tall, or too thin. Unfortunately, although sizeism, and in particular weight discrimination, leads to many classes of people being discriminated against, this has become socially acceptable behavior. 

How Does Sizeism Affect The Workplace?

In the workplace, sizeism can be seen in varying forms from being denied a job, or a promotion, to being stereotyped. A study performed by Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity showed that overweight women are more likely to be seen as slow, lazy, undisciplined, or sloppy, and they are less likely to advance in their various careers. This type of thinking becomes an anti-fat bias

Overweight men and women alike are paid approximately $1.50 less per hour than their thinner co-workers. It also showed that while it was OK for a male CEO to be overweight, as approximately 50 percent of them are, it was highly unlikely to see that in a female. Less than 25 percent of females have a BMI of over 30.

How Does The Law Protect You?

While it is illegal to mistreat a person unfairly or differently due to something that is beyond their control, it is not always illegal. There are employment discrimination laws on the books that protect certain classes of people such as the following: 

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • National Origin
  • Color 

There are also laws on the books that protect people with mental and physical disabilities. Unfortunately, there are no laws on the books that specifically address sizeism or obesity unless your size puts you in a position in which it becomes a disability. If that is the case, then you may be able to file suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

For example, in the past, the courts have rejected claims that obesity was a disability but instead only saw it has a symptom of some other underlying medical condition. But now the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that under the ADA Amendments Acts signed in 2008, the threshold is much lower for what constitutes a disability, and basic obesity now qualifies without any other qualifying conditions as long as it sufficiently impacts activities of daily living such as walking, bending, digestion, etc. 

There is still much work to be done in the area of sizeism to afford you the legal protections that you deserve. Laws need to be enacted on the federal, state, and local levels. But in the meantime, you may not be without recourse.

If you feel that you are or have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you need to seek the services of an attorney from a business like the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. They will be able to review your individual case, and give you advice on what remedies you may be entitled to. If they feel that you have a valid case, they have the experience and knowledge to go forward.