Obesity discrimination widespread in US

Nearly
half the American workforce believes that overweight employees suffer
discrimination at the hands of co- workers and supervisors – a fact that legal
experts predict will lead to expensive litigation for employers.

In a
new survey of 603 American workers, 47 percent said they believe obese
employees are discriminated against.

Charles
T Huddleston, chair of the employment law practice team at Atlanta law firm
Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, said the poll illustrates that obesity
discrimination is now recognised as a real problem in the workplace.

"Only
a handful of cities have laws barring size discrimination, but as the issue of
obesity discrimination continues to gain speed, additional regulation and
costly litigation are sure to follow," he said.

However,
Huddleston suggested several ways for employers to avoid lawsuits and other
problems that stem from obesity discrimination.

"As
with almost any discriminatory practice, the first and best way to attack it is
to increase communication around the issue," he said. "Employers also
should explore health programmes to help employees avoid obesity.

"By
taking these steps, employers stand not only to improve morale and create a
more tolerant work environment, but they save dollars by avoiding expensive litigation
and by negotiating less-costly premiums for healthcare," he added.

The
survey findings:
● 47 per cent believe obese workers suffer discrimination in the
workplace

●32
per cent think these workers are less likely to be respected and taken
seriously in the workplace


31 per cent say obese workers deserve special government protection against
weight-based discrimination


30 per cent feel these overweight workers are less likely to be hired or
promoted


11 per cent who describe themselves as overweight or obese say they have been
the victim of weight-related discrimination in either their current or former
workplace.

www.employmentlawalliance.com

By Quentin
Reade

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