Weight Discrimination in the Workplace: An Evolving Scenario

Nothing, as the saying goes, is written in stone and that includes the law. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. However, as society has evolved, other workplace protections have been put in place, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAAA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability. Many believe that workplace protections may soon expand to prohibit discrimination based on weight.

In 2013, the American Medical Association announced that obesity will now be categorized as a disease rather than a lifestyle choice. While this proclamation does not translate directly into legal protection, it throws the door open for workers to argue that the categorization of obesity as a disease may bring it under the protections provided by the ADAAA.

Several cases over the past few years have challenged the traditional perception of obesity as being the result of poor impulse control or an unhealthy diet. In the future, discriminating against an individual for his or her weight may become just as unwelcome – and illegal – as discrimination based on skin color, religion, gender or disability.

Discrimination laws are always changing, especially here in New York. That is why it is important for employees to know their workplace rights, ensuring they receive the protections they deserve.

If you think you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, contact Shulman Kessler LLP.

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