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OBESITY IN THE WORKPLACE – Can You Be Fired For Being Overweight?

The Bigger You Are, The Smaller Your Chances

Believe it or not, if you are overweight, you can be discriminated against or even fired. You may be passed over for positions, promotions and maybe even lose your job!

You may be wondering—how is this possible? How can I be fired for obesity? After all, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects just about everyone due to race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Why not obesity, then? Unfortunately, it just does not cover or protect you if you have weight management issues. In fact, only Michigan has laws in place to protect hard working, albeit husky employees.

For example take a look at recent ruling by Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson ruled in favor of Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in a rare weight-discrimination case brought by 22 cocktail waitresses known as the “Borgata Babes.”

According to an article in the Huffington Post:

Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson’s decision ended the legal battle between popular Atlantic City casino the Borgata and a group of 22 former cocktail servers known collectively as “Borgata Babes.”

The 22 Babes filed suit against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa alleging weight discrimination, according to the Los Angeles Times. The women specifically targeted a casino policy that didn’t state that you can be fired for obesity but it prohibited “Borgata Babes” from gaining more than 7 percent of their original body weight.

In his ruling against the “Babes,” however, Judge Johnson said the Borgata guidelines were fair, and that all women knew what they were getting into when they accepted positions in the casino’s selective program.

“The Borgata Babe program has a sufficient level of trapping and adornments to render its participants akin to ‘sex objects’ to the Borgata’s patrons,” Johnson wrote, according to the Press of Atlantic City. “Nevertheless, for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person’s participation.”
TIME notes that the ruling highlights the lack of weight-based discrimination protections in the America — currently, only Michigan prohibits workplace discrimination based on height or weight.

More information can be found at www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/27/borgata-babes-lawsuit-waitresses-weight_n_3664531.html

What Can You Do?

The reality is that if you work in an “at will” State, you can be fired for almost anything. The exception is if you are fired because of your race, religion, age or disability.

But all hope is not lost if you find yourself in this situation. If you feel you have been singled out and fired because you are overweight or obese, you can file an unemployment claim if you qualify under your state’s laws. While an employer can fire you for being fat, or almost anything else, they will need to justify their reason to the unemployment department. They will need to prove that the extra weight prevented you from doing your job. If they cannot prove that or have no other legitimate reason to fire you, such as being habitually tardy, you will most likely be entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

Photo by Tobyotter

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