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Weight discrimination: how prevalent is it?

Although most states in the U.S. do not have laws protecting against this type of discrimination in the workplace, it is definitely worth discussing: weight discrimination. It's something that's extremely hard to prove and proving it would not bring much recourse anyway. But according to the deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, there is research in the United States that shows that weight discrimination among women is "comparable to rates of racial discrimination." The director says weight discrimination has been documented as one of the most common types of employment discrimination that is experienced by individuals.

Many cases of weight discrimination are quite subtle, while others are actually quite obvious. There have been examples of such behavior, such as when cocktail waitresses at a casino were reportedly forced to weigh in. Some of them claimed if they gained weight they could be suspended. In the modeling world, models have reportedly been fired for being fat. The cases that are more subtle often have to do with employees being overlooked for promotions or new positions within the company they already work for.

While the laws set by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may cover employees who are morbidly obese, because morbid obesity falls "within the scope of the Disabilities Act," their laws do not protect many of the other size-related discrimination cases. This is definitely an interesting topic to consider during a time when more than one-third of adults are considered obese in the United States. It will be interesting to see if employment laws will eventually change to include this form of discrimination.

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