Kirabelle

Discrimination And Employment

30 posts in this topic

I am a very responsible and capable employee. I know I do a good job. However, in the past I've had a hard time finding a job, and I KNOW a lot of it is because of my weight, not my resume. There are three instances where I got hired BECAUSE of my weight (and good references of course). The person doing the hiring was a large woman in all instances.

I've been with the same human service agency for 11 years and after surgery and follow up care I'm looking to change fields. I feel like I will have more opportunities as a thin person. More energy, too! More physical ability to do things I can't do now.

Has anyone found this to be true or am I just setting myself up for post-op depression when nothing actually changes?

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I personally haven't had the problem, but I would bet you are spot on!

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Well, I feel I'm not typically looked at with that 'YOU dare ask us for a job' type of look anymore but so far, I've not found it any easier to find a job. For me, that seems to be more a sign of the economy where I live though. Unemployment is rampant here where I live.

That said- earlier this week I inquired about whether a particular establishment was hiring and was flat out told "We only hire young people but here's an application".

:/

Wiitch1 likes this

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I think I was hired at a job once where the person hiring me was large too. And I think you're spot on about it, but of course I can't prove it. Just my opinion.

Vg1978 likes this

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I think I didn't get many jobs that I interviewed for when I was big because of my weight. But I don't think I can say that I was discriminated BECAUSE of the weight. I think it was because I didn't carry myself with confidence or dress as well. I think that is key to remember. Since I've lost the weight I have received a promotion but I don't think it really had anything to do with my weight because it was my 5th promotion where I work and I've worked here at my highest weight. But I'm now in a high profile, high management position with the state. I now dress much differently than I used to, and I know my Director is no longer worried about springing a last minute meeting on me with high profile people because I look like a slob or because it may require me to walk a few blocks from the office.

I will also say that as someone who is in the position of interviewing candidates I do look at appearance. I don't care if you are thin, fat, tall, short, or whatever. I just want to see someone who is neat and professional and carries themselves with confidence to do the job that I'm asking them to do.

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SP... you have a good point.. I recall my last job that I loved working (stupid ibm wanted stuff cheaper so the work was sent to china... blergh)... anyway- I remember walking into the office in my cute suit and seeing a few men standing outside smoking and whatnot and I was nervous as heck but just plastered a big smile on my face and nodded to them and said hello as I went in... turns out that one of the men out there smoking was the interviewer and he later told me it was the fact that I walked with my head up, looked him in the eyes and smiled to all of them not knowing who they were and where they fell on the food chain (all were in jeans and golf type shirts so no way of knowing he was the director of operations when I walked in). He also said he liked that I didn't get tripped up on some of the seemingly silly questions he asked " What was the last fiction piece I'd read?" and if he went into my car and turned on the radio, "what would he hear?", 'what was the last concert, play, or event that I'd personally paid to attend".

I was not quite at my heaviest at that point but pretty darn close to it, but I do remember that feeling when I walked into that building- confident of myself. (I need to find that again.. the long term unemployment has battered me more there than I care to admit)

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Yep Kelly. It's the confidence. I remember back when I was the Administrative Assistant and I would schedule the interviews and was the first person that they saw when showing up I would report back who was rude on the phone/in person and how they treated people in the office, etc. Now that I'm a hiring manager I make sure I find this same information out because I don't want someone who's going to kiss my butt, but treat others rudely, because that's their true personality.

Stephtay likes this

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I was always a confident fat chick until recently. I knew I was pretty regardless of my weight and I dressed well. The last year has been another story, but I haven't been looking for a job for the last year so it's kind of irrelevant. It's just fact that people discriminate against people who are fat. Go to a forum or chat room that is unmoderated and post your highest weight stats and say hi and see what happens... people's TRUE feelings come out online when they think no one knows who they are.

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I know my weight has affected me getting positions. Even with a bachelor's AND a master's degree, I was interviewing for jobs I knew I was qualified and still not being hired. On more than one occasion I was told that I wasn't a "good fit". Even though I was always very well dressed and put together, you can just tell when someone is looking at you with disdain because you're fat--or at least I could. The blessing in it all, was that if I would have gotten one of those jobs, there is a good chance I would have totally ignored the announcement for the position I'm in now (which is in a big city and pays me far more than any of the other jobs). I totally think this happens. I actually did my thesis in grad school on weight discrimination in employment.

Happy-Camper likes this

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Hmmm, I recently went to an interview where, for the first time, I felt like the opposite was happening. Both interviewers were very heavy and poorly dressed even though they were a director and assistant director and there I was in my size 12 suit. I know I was one of the most qualified individuals they could have gotten for that position, but they never called for a second interview or even sent me a rejection letter.

It's okay, though, I wouldn't have taken it - not enough money to make it worth moving.

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I do feel people have perceived me in certain stereotypical ways based on my weight, but I haven't been totally discriminated against in the workplace really. Weeellllll...okay, probably a little bit in the past few years. I anyhow get treated as an American first, an American WOMAN as a very close second -- and the fat just adds to all those existing stereotypes. So I'm starting from a deficit before I even open my mouth, so to speak. I have a friend here who was told, "Wow, you're pretty thin for an American." LOL...ummmm, thanks?? LOL. The things people say...

Generally speaking: My CV looks good, so I almost always get an interview. I interview really well, so I almost always get an offer. So in that sense, I don't think my weight has been a huge (heh) factor. That said, I DO believe it impacts how people perceive and treat you once you're hired. It's too depressing to get into, but suffice to say I have had some bad experiences with this in the past decade, but mostly since I moved outside the US (yes, the US is fat-phobic to a certain extent, but believe me -- they are not the worst of the lot).

And as far as I can tell so far, my weight and my confidence levels appear to be completely unrelated. Wish that wasn't the case, as I could use a good confidence injection if I'm honest. <_<

Sigh. Crap day.

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Hmmm, I recently went to an interview where, for the first time, I felt like the opposite was happening. Both interviewers were very heavy and poorly dressed even though they were a director and assistant director and there I was in my size 12 suit. I know I was one of the most qualified individuals they could have gotten for that position, but they never called for a second interview or even sent me a rejection letter.

I believe you, totally. I can see this happening all the time, doesn't need to be fat people with bad wardrobes either. Anytime you come across as too competent or more together than the interviewer/hiring manager, you're on thin ice. Being fat might have actually helped you/me in this sense, as we could have come across as less threatening inherently, because who likes a fat chick all that much, right? You can do excellent work AND be kept in the corner.

Sorry, what a mood I'm in today. :huh:

Happy-Camper likes this

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I have experienced it both ways. I have gotten open hostility from over weight/obese females on the interview committee since I've lost the weight. It is really weird. Just be your amazing self and you will be OK.

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I have read of research studies verifying that attractive people are more hireable (although I couldn't quote my source any longer) so it stands to reason that there would be discrimination amongst those deemed unattractive.  I would think this would apply if someone was homely just as often as someone overweight.  It doesn't begin to make it right but it's equally nonsensical to not acknowledge it.  Those who are in positions that do hiring need to be conscious of their own prejudices (whatever they may be) and work towards overcoming them in order to select the best candidate--The Ideal World!    sigh...

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I was definitely discriminated against because of my weight. Part of why I was laid off for 3.5 years.  FWIW I now say up front in my cover letter that I am mildly disabled. I actually think that helped me to get a job.

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it also depends a lot on your field of work and the number of openings in your area.  I can't even get an interview anywhere, so I know mine hasn't been totally because of my weight. 

 

But the ones I have been on, I felt should have been mine and in both, I was in the top 2 or 3 and wasn't chosen.  Hard to stomach, especially when the department manager of the one I wanted most says to me, "I wanted you, but we voted and I was outnumbered".  whatever.

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This topic was one of the reasons I had WLS. I finish my degree next year, and was concerned about getting employment once I have it. I mentioned this to my surgeon pro-op, and he told me that empirical studies in Australia have shown that you are 70% less likely to be hired for a position if you are obese. This of course could be related to confidence, dress etc., but ultimately it comes down to what size you are.

It wasn't my number 1 reason for surgery, but it was certainly a secondary factor.

Kazkaren likes this

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I have been very fortunate in the job market.  I haven't had to look recently since I have been with my currently employer for six years.  I am in a highly professional, well-paid position, without a degree.  I think confidence and a professional resume and appearance has a lot to do with how you are perceived by job interviewers.  I did notice the last time that I looked, that I got fewer calls for interviews than I had when previously job hunting.  Previously, if I sent out 10 resumes, I typically would get at least six calls and at least 1-2 offers.  I noticed that the last time I sent out my resume, I got 3-4 calls for initial interviews, but after meeting in person, I was still offered the positions. I am a black woman and I never felt discriminated against because of my race or weight. I did not see the change as being related to my weight since 1) the interviewer had not yet me and 2) I have been heavy most of my adult life.  I chalked up the change to getting married and going from a reasonably common last name to taking my husband's very ethnic name.  I found that I received more calls when I used my maiden name as a middle name on my resume. The other issue may have been that I was now applying for positions that required a higher degree of technical skill and my salary requirements were a lot higher than they had been in my previous job search.

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Well, I feel I'm not typically looked at with that 'YOU dare ask us for a job' type of look anymore but so far, I've not found it any easier to find a job. For me, that seems to be more a sign of the economy where I live though. Unemployment is rampant here where I live.

That said- earlier this week I inquired about whether a particular establishment was hiring and was flat out told "We only hire young people but here's an application".

:/

Isn't that against the law?

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It is. Big time.

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Isn't that against the law?

Discrimination suits are hard to prove and prosecute. Doesn't matter if it's against the law or not. It's one person's word against another.

It's also illegal to discriminate on race and size, but I've been denied jobs both because I'm too white and not dark enough. I've also been edged out of jobs by others who weigh less (and have zero education, less experience, no provable skill) because it was more important for the employee to have certain physical attributes than to have someone who knows what the hell she's doing.

I have always been frustrated with these things.

Since losing weight, I am a force to be reckoned with. I'm working on my second master's degree. I hold a high title. I manage other folks. I have great confidence (and it's not delusional either) that if I need another job, I will have no issues finding another. I am -extremely- valuable. And I know it.

I feel like a machine with needle sharp teeth. Like I could chew up and spit out anyone in my path. I am so confident in my ability, I feel like someone could do a side by side with my "competition" for a job in regards to skills and knowledge--like a test of sorts--and I know I would pull up ahead. I also know my handshake and smile have improved drastically with my rising confidence. I will win. I am golden. Back off, Barbie--this is MY dream house.

Total package right here, baby.

rxmom2007 likes this

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"Total package right here, baby...."

I admire your confidence. Job search and marketability are two reasons I'm pursuing the surgery. My current job is an interim dean position in higher ed., and my two-year interim comes to an end June 30, 2014. There just aren't as many classy, put-together professional looks available in the bigger sizes, and the ones that ARE available don't look right on me in the mirror. I don't recognize myself in pictures anymore. I feel like the real "me" is hidden behind layers of fat. I hope weight loss surgery next week will help with this, and I'm trusting it will.

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What I have found most interesting is the interactions with folks at my job who knew me when I was big. Some treat me differently and some don't. This who didn't know me as a "big girl" are shocked and awed when they find out how big I used to be. Then I get tons of praise because I have become very physically active. I still struggle with body dysmorphic disorder and have days where I still view myself as tubby. Just hang in there and know that you are awesome and did a courageous thing having surgery. 

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The word "Discrimination" pulls up a host of civil rights issues. In reality, discrimination really means deciding between two or more alternatives.

As an employer, when you have 100 applicants for the same job, you must decide, or "discriminate" between alternatives. There are legal limits on factors an employer can use to decide between candidates. There are things that are fair game though. Race, age (largely ignored), gender, etc are off limits as discriminators. When someone tells you they only hire "young people", it usually means it's minimum wage and that they have a very high turnover rate. Unfortunately, young people take a lot of abuse these days - and have the highest unemployment rate of any demographic.

Physical appearance, height, weight, speech patterns, confidence, mannerisms, general health and hygiene are all things that, subjectively, employers evaluate. Education and resume strength get you the interview, but you do have to get personal and close the sale. Seek every advantage. I love hiring and mentoring young people. I also like to keep them and watch them grow.

I will tell you that my weight never adversely affected my career. My life's biggest deals came during times when I was at my heaviest. I know I'm not typical however. At the end of the day, you just have to convince someone they are better off having you on the payroll than not. Simple. The trick is YOU believing that going in.

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I use to work in the fashion industry in NYC, and weight did matter. I had a hard time getting jobs, but now I am studying in another field (clinical counseling) as I am loosing weight. So weight may not be a problem but now that I am loosing it will be 1 less factor to deal with.

Aviator likes this

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