Can you be fired for being overweight?
Being overweight, obese, curvy, or whatever nomenclature you choose to describe it, can be difficult. Research has shown that carrying excess weight can harm your body physically, as well as emotionally. And anyone who has ever been deemed “too big” according to society’s standards, likely knows what it feels like to be called names or be made fun of simply because of their size.
But what about when the name calling no longer comes from school age kids, but coworkers? Worse than that, what are you supposed to do when the disparaging comments, offhanded remarks, and sideways glances come from your boss? What recourse do you have when you are being bullied at work?
Weight and size discrimination is not only wrong, but against the law. In fact, Michigan is the only state in which weight discrimination has been deemed illegal, thanks to the 1977 passing of the Elliot- Larsen Civil Rights Act. This law prohibits discrimination based on weight or height, including being short or thin.
The law equally protects individuals no matter how they became obese or thin, or whether or not their size is due to a medical condition. This community is often seen as lazy and unmotivated, which are false assumptions that can only prove hurtful. These false beliefs damage professional development, employee satisfaction, career growth, and performance.
The toll that weight discrimination takes may not only include outright insults, but stolen opportunities to advance in a company, get a promotion, or simply get ahead. Assuming what an employee can or cannot do based on their size, can be professionally devastating. Psychologically, the harm caused by devaluing an employee because of their size or for any reason for that matter, can be difficult if not downright impossible from which to ever fully recover. Employers are obligated to treat their workers fairly and equitably based on their skills, performance, and the job they were hired to do.
The law is on your side. Your place of work does not have the legal wherewithal to fat shame, encourage you to “lose a few pounds,” pay you less because of your size, or stigmatize you for being large or small, short or tall. Whether or not you choose to address your weight, no matter why you carry it, is absolutely and unequivocally up to you and no one else. Whom you choose to include in a discussion about your health, is again entirely up to you.
You should not have to suffer, and certainly not do so alone. We know your rights and want you to know them, too. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your weight, height, or some other reason, call us at Ernst & Marko Law for a free consultation.