The workplace is a common setting where weight bias and discrimination occur. Employees who have a higher body weight face weight-based inequities in employment including unfair hiring practices, lower wages, fewer promotions, harassment from co-workers, and unfair job termination.
Legal cases documenting weight-based discrimination in employment settings continue to surface. Unfortunately, no federal laws prohibit weight discrimination in the workplace, and there are few options for legal recourse to employees who experience workplace discrimination because of their weight.
However, there is increasing attention to policies that could help address weight discrimination in employment. Currently, Michigan is the only state that has passed a state law that protects people from weight discrimination in the workplace, but other states, like Massachusetts, are trying to do the same.
Rudd Center research shows that there is substantial public support for policies to prohibit weight discrimination in the workplace. In fact, our national studies suggest that most Americans are in favor of laws that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of their weight. Public support also appears to be increasing; from 2010 to 2015, our research found that support for laws to prohibit weight discrimination in the workplace increased from 73% to 79%, and public support was high among both men and women, and regardless of political orientation.