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Possible Employment Legislation to Protect Overweight Employees

Possible Employment Legislation to Protect Overweight Employees

Philip Rostant, who is a leading judge that specialises in employment law, has said that the only way to deal with discrimination of overweight people in the workplace is to introduce legislation so that they are able to sue their colleagues if they are rude or abusive about their weight.

Judge Rostant hopes that the law would prevent any bias against people who are not an ‘ideal-weight’ to find a job and remain in employment. He said that by not being respectful about the weight of a team member will result in similar punishments to people who are abusive about another’s ethnicity or sexuality.

In an academic paper co-written with Tamara Hervey who is a law professor at Sheffield university they wrote: ‘People of non-ideal weight (overweight or severely underweight) are subjected to discrimination, in the workplace and elsewhere, based on attitudinal assumptions and negative inferences ... such as that they are insufficiently self-motivated to make good employees.’

It was explained that people who are larger are actually paid less, on average, than members of the team who are more slim.

The Equality Act of 2010 outlaws discrimination based on people’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability.  However, overweight people are only covered by this law if they are also disabled.

In 1993, approximately 14% of adults were classed as being obese (i.e. of having a Body Mass Index over 30). This figure has now increased to 25%, and the escalation has lead to a rise of discrimination.

Lawson-West Employment Solicitor Vaishali comments: "Judge Rostant’s work will protect people who currently feel discriminated against. Everyone should feel that they can go to work without facing any sort discrimination. We will keep you updated with any developments of this story.”

If you would like to speak to a member of our Employment team, Vaishali and Alex Reid can be contacted on 0116 212 1000 / Ashley Hunt and Carrie-Ann Randall can be contacted on 01858 445 480.

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