Kirabelle

Discrimination And Employment

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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.

Indeed, an employer CAN discriminate based on weight. In fact, in the age of government mandated health care, we may see discrimination based on your physical condition. Pilots have to take a biennial physical. Don't pass and you're grounded. Don't fix it and you're fired. The precedent is already in place.

If you are a person in a statistical group that has higher health care costs, it could cost you a job. Losing weight and getting in good physical condition has never been more important.

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"If you are a person in a statistical group that has higher health care costs, it could cost you a job. Losing weight and getting in good physical condition has never been more important."

 

This is a very true statement.  I work in the healthcare industry.  My company employs >17K people and policies are changing all the time to enforce healthy lifestyles among employees.  Employees have not been allowed to smoke on campus, not even in the parking lot or within visible area of any of our campuses since 2011.  An employee can be dismissed if s/he continues to smell of tobacco after multiple warnings from their manager.  Also since 2011, flu shots are mandatory for all employees and contractors who work on site.  The company now offers weight loss surgery (at our facilities of course) to employees who meet the standard criteria.  They have also added numerous health management programs in which employees are *strongly* encouraged to participate.

 

I understand that these changes are not personal, they are designed to keep healthcare costs down.  I appreciate this as we have a nice benefits package with very limited out of pocket costs and I would love to keep it that way.  Also, despite these changes, I have never felt that I have been discriminated against due to my gender, race, or weight.  I work in IT and I am well respected by my leadership in a highly competitive environment.  I think confidence in my abilities and proven work ethic have benefited me thus far.  I know that prejudice exists and have both seen it directed toward others and experienced it first hand in other venues.  I have just been very fortunate that it has not affected me at work.  

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Isn't that against the law?

 

Sure.

 

But prove it.

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Indeed, an employer CAN discriminate based on weight. In fact, in the age of government mandated health care, we may see discrimination based on your physical condition. Pilots have to take a biennial physical. Don't pass and you're grounded. Don't fix it and you're fired. The precedent is already in place.

If you are a person in a statistical group that has higher health care costs, it could cost you a job. Losing weight and getting in good physical condition has never been more important.

 

They can discriminate on any basis.  That's the reality.  There is always another reason to cite, but they can (and do) discriminate on a regular basis.  Every employer out there does it. 

 

Some things are supposed to be taboo, but proving that's WHY you didn't get the job is a lot harder than it sounds.  I could walk in as a 300 lb woman, be better qualified for the job than the other 20 applicants, but they didn't hire me.  And if I tried to push the issue, it would come down to something like, "She didn't interview well / we didn't like her social skills / we felt she had the wrong mindset for the job"-- there are a hundred fabrications easily presented to an investigative body. 

 

You just can't prove it. 

 

So the laws are there, but the legal process doesn't work. 

 

It's an employer's market right now.  You need to be on top of your game to win the prize.  That's all there is to it.  Look, talk, walk, and act the part, or you don't get the paycheck.  Doesn't matter what rights you THINK you have.  Effectively, you have none.

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I think it happens. I've been lucky in my current job that my career has just grown and grown. 

As I've sat in on interviews and was in the interview process though, consider the employeer perspective. In my old department it was a high energy job- I need someone on their feet, running (sometimes literally), wearing lead protection (we're in x-ray)- sometimes while running, able to do CPR for long periods of time. I need someone whose body can handle that. Is it fair to assume that because someone is larger that they're less healthy than a thinner person? Not at all, but I can assure you that it happens. 

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