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WaPo: Weight discrimination is rampant. Yet in most places it’s still legal.

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Massachusetts may become the second state to add ‘weight’ to its list of protected categories

 

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The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City obsessively monitored the weight of its waitresses, according to 22 of them who sued it in 2008. They would be suspended, for example, if they gained 7 percent more weight than they had when they were hired. But a New Jersey judge threw out the suit, explaining that state law was silent about weight discrimination. The state Supreme Court affirmed the decision three years ago.

 

A hospital in Victoria, Tex., made headlines in 2012 after it imposed a strict body mass index (BMI) limit on employees — 35, in the obese range, was the cutoff — citing patients’ expectations of what a health-care provider should look like. It was entirely legal.

 

The American legal system offers strikingly limited recourse for people who have been treated unfairly because of their size. Right now, cases like this stand a chance mainly in Michigan, where a civil rights law has prohibited weight discrimination for more than 40 years. (A handful of cities have similar ordinances, though the District’s ban on discrimination based on “appearance” offers less clear-cut protection; meanwhile, courts wrestle with the degree to which the Americans With Disabilities Act covers people who have been treated unfairly because of obesity.) But now Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of weight in that state. It’s very concise, simply adding “weight” (and “height”) to the list of protected categories in existing anti-discrimination law, alongside race, age, sexuality and disability.

 

Academic research shows that weight-based stigma, prejudice and outright discrimination are rampant. One review of studies found that 19 percent of adults with “Class I” obesity (a BMI of 30 to 35) reported experiencing treatment they viewed as unfair, in various settings. The figure rose to 42 percent for people who were more obese. At each level of obesity, women reported more discrimination than men.

 

The rise in U.S. obesity rates — by now, almost 40 percent of Americans meet the definition — has not reduced such stigma. A study published this year by two Harvard psychologists found that overtly negative attitudes toward people based on body weight had declined by only 15 percent from 2004 to 2016; in contrast, explicit racism dropped by 37 percent and explicit anti-gay feelings by nearly half. Even more strikingly, when the researchers examined “implicit” bias — unconsciously held attitudes, revealed through careful laboratory testing — weight bias (unlike every other type) appeared to be getting slightly worse over time. 

 

It shouldn’t be surprising that these biases often translate into mistreatment of people. One review of existing research found statistically significant penalties for people who are overweight or obese at every step of the employment process: hiring, evaluations, promotion and firing. Estimates of a wage penalty vary, but most studies are consistent that one exists. In medical settings, reports by overweight people of biased treatment are legion. (You wouldn’t have to be overweight, by BMI standards, to be protected by the proposed Massachusetts law; it would cover a case like that of the Borgata waitresses, who were punished for minor weight gain.)

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/weight-discrimination-is-rampant-yet-in-most-places-its-still-legal/2019/06/21/f958613e-9394-11e9-b72d-d56510fa753e_story.html?utm_term=.2c290dfe8280

 

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I'm interested in this discussion.  Should employers be totally barred from hiring based on looks?  Would you go to a strip club where the girls were 400 lbs and their face looked like it had been lit on fire than put out with an ice pick?  Should a bank be able to not higher a teller over looks?  What about a call center worker?  

 

I think it is a difficult issue.  One I am interested to see discussed.  I honestly don't know where I fall in the debate yet.  And to oblige PokerPacker, for many it is, at least in large part, a lifestyle choice.  

 

 

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I do think it's a valid discussion.  How come employers are allowed to discriminate against Group C, but it's illegal to discriminate against (or, in some cases, to fail to hire enough of) Group X?  

 

I'd say that to me, one factor that makes me say "this group needs to be on the protected list", is a demonstrated history of society discriminating against that group.  (Gays get discriminated against a lot.  Dallas Cowboy fans, not so much.)  

 

(And I could see an argument that maybe obesity meets that bar.  I'd say it's at least close to where the line ought to be.)  

 

I'll also toss out, though, that I think there ought to be exceptions to the rule of no discrimination.  

 

One I can think of is that I think certain jobs ought to be exempt.  I'd say that when someone if applying for a job to be a symbol for the employer, then the employer is allowed to consider lots of things that normally aren't the employer's business.  I'd say that in most cases, your social media history is none of the employer's business.  But if you're applying to be the anchor of the CBS Evening News, or the spokesman for KFC, or the nest James Bond, then they're allowed to consider that.  

 

And I think that there ought to be cases where employers are allowed to discriminate.  The examples I always point at are Hooters and the Boy Scouts.  

 

I'd argue that, if Hooters were to be required to hire 50% male waiters (or the Boy Scouts to admit girls), then those entities would no longer be what they are.  

 

As such, I have said for some time that I think businesses should be allowed to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws.  They would go fill out a document (which will be publicly available), in which they assert that discrimination (of the types which they will specify) is a fundamental part of their business' identity, and that if they were to stop these forms of discrimination, then they would no longer be the business which they are.  They should be required to put some agreed-on symbol on the entrance to the business, so that potential customers can see before they enter that this business has chosen to declare that discrimination is a fundamental part of their identity.  (Otherwise, a customer might not know that a business has exempted itself.)  But I think Hooters should be allowed to continue to only hire waiters of certain genders, ages, and physical types.  

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I need to go to a Hooters before I die just to see what the fuss is about..

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1 minute ago, thegreaterbuzzette said:

Tagging your wife in a weight post. This should be good. 

Uh oh.  

 

I thought you'd be good for this discussion from an HR viewpoint.  

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1 minute ago, TheGreatBuzz said:

Uh oh.  

 

I thought you'd be good for this discussion from an HR viewpoint.  

I know....but I couldn't resist 🙂❤️

 

Ok, so 

 
 
 
22 minutes ago, Larry said:

I do think it's a valid discussion.  How come employers are allowed to discriminate against Group C, but it's illegal to discriminate against (or, in some cases, to fail to hire enough of) Group X?  

It's based on "protected classes" which have legislation/SCOTUS roots. 

 

 
 
 
22 minutes ago, Larry said:

And I think that there ought to be cases where employers are allowed to discriminate.  The examples I always point at are Hooters and the Boy Scouts.  

 

I'd argue that, if Hooters were to be required to hire 50% male waiters (or the Boy Scouts to admit girls), then those entities would no longer be what they are.    

Scouts - I don't know if you heard, but boy scouts now allow girls. Many have screamed that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts just need to combine and be "Scouts". 

Hooters - I'll get into how they get around the hot waitress part later. But also keep in mind that the back of the house staff (kitchen, bussers, dishwashers) are almost all male.

 

 

 

Now on to how do strip clubs, Hooters, etc get around it. Multiple ways

1 - a lot of strippers are "independent contractors" not employees, so they are not subjected to the same discrimination laws

2 - if the "job requires" a certain aesthetic/body and it can be documented, the company is able to "discriminate". For example, "ability to lift 50 lbs", or "present a pleasing appearance to appeal to clientele".

3 - general understanding that a male or a 600 lb woman.....should "know better" than to apply

 

 

And my favorite HR catchphrase - You can fire/not hire for NO reason, you just can't do it for an ILLEGAL reason. 

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Your post seems to have been transformed into some special kind of post, that can't be quoted, or even "drag over it and copy"d.  

 

Yes, I'm aware that the Boy Scouts allow girls now.  (Recall reading that the Girl Scouts are yelling "Not Fair!", and pouting.  :) )  I'm still going to use them as an example, anyway.  

 

And yeah, we're getting way OT, but I have serious issues with this whole "oh, my employees are 'independent contractors', and therefore my business is exempt from all employment laws" thing.  (And tons of other dodges that are used to do things are are illegal.  This whole notion that I can just ignore any law I want by waving my fingers, doing a Jedi impression, and announcing that I will now call you by a different name, and therefore no rules apply any more.)  

 

Oh, and still OT, but, as to "certain body types".  Recall reading about an interview with George Takei, when an interviewer asked him if, after Star Trek, had he been typecast?  

 

"Well, I do always seem to get hired to play Asians."  

 

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3 minutes ago, Larry said:

And yeah, we're getting way OT, but I have serious issues with this whole "oh, my employees are 'independent contractors', and therefore my business is exempt from all employment laws" thing.  (And tons of other dodges that are used to do things are are illegal.  This whole notion that I can just ignore any law I want by waving my fingers, doing a Jedi impression, and announcing that I will now call you by a different name, and therefore no rules apply any more.)  

 

It's actually not that simple. The difference between an independent contractor and an employee is VERY different. This is one of the items that DOL frequently violates companies for abusing. Not sure how much you know about employer relations/law but strippers are a VERY clear cut example of an independent contractor and not an employee. And the cost penalties for incorrectly categorizing someone as an IC are substantial. Add on top of that most people's unwillingness to be an IC.....

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, PokerPacker said:

Is this where we make the argument that it's a choice?

 

So is comming out as gay or transsexual... 

Edited by CousinsCowgirl84

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, CousinsCowgirl84 said:

 

So is comming out as gay or transsexual... 

The law isn't if one "admits"/claims/announces to being gay. The law is if they are discriminated against for the simple fact that you are gay. 

Edited by thegreaterbuzzette

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2 minutes ago, thegreaterbuzzette said:

The law isn't if one "admits"/claims/announces to being gay. The law is if they are discriminated against for the simple fact that are gay. 

 

Theres only a few ways to find out if someone’s gay?

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Posted (edited)

Deleted.  Not gonna let the troll hijack the thread.  

 

Edited by Larry
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Posted (edited)

You guys are rediculous. My point is that choice isn’t a good reason to desciminate against someone. A gay person can choose to hide their orientation but shouldn’t have to. You can’t discriminate against a gay person unless you know they are gay. And you can’t know they are gay unless they choose to let it be known. Choice. That’s it.

 

 

Buzzette is trying to make some obscure point based on a technicality in the law. Whatever...

 

 

How would you feel about discriminating against someone who was convicted of a felony in the past but has done their time?

 

How would you feel about discriminating against an old dude who had gang tattoos?

Edited by CousinsCowgirl84

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Obesity is a choice. No one should be refused for a job in a field like IT, for example, but making it a protected class is fraught with peril.  Insurance companies are allowed to charge higher rates for smoking; shouldn't they also be allowed to charge more for the obese? I am a type 2 diabetic, but unlike the vast majority of people with my condition, I am thin (6 ft and 160 lbs). I am quite careful about my diet. I know other diabetics who have no restraint whatsoever.

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2 hours ago, thegreaterbuzzette said:

Tagging your wife in a weight post. This should be good. 

 

This might be the best post ever on this site. 

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1 hour ago, Larry said:

Your post seems to have been transformed into some special kind of post, that can't be quoted, or even "drag over it and copy"d.  

 

 

 

 

2 hours ago, thegreaterbuzzette said:

I know....but I couldn't resist 🙂❤️

 

 

And my favorite HR catchphrase - You can fire/not hire for NO reason, you just can't do it for an ILLEGAL reason. 

 

Larry, are you on a pad/phone? The issue you had has come about on my iPad a time or two. 

8 minutes ago, Riggo-toni said:

Obesity is a choice. 

 

giphy.gif

10 minutes ago, Riggo-toni said:

I know other diabetics who have no restraint whatsoever.

 

Autophagy/water fasting/low sugar life style. 🙌

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1 hour ago, CousinsCowgirl84 said:

So is comming out as gay or transsexual... 

That's simply admitting the reality of what they are and have always been, akin to calling the opening of your eyes a choice to reveal their color to the world.  Imagine if people with green eyes demand those with blue keep their eyes closed because they didn't want to be forced to look upon them?  Madness. 

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Posted (edited)

It is a choice for at least 90% of the people out there. You can't possibly argue it is genetic when melting pot America has by far the highest obesity rates, and countries like Kuwait who adopted American fast food chains are now trending in the same direction. Moving from NJ to GA, it's stunning to me how fat everyone is down here, but every time there's lunch provided at work it's high carb junk because that's the diet of choice here.

Edited by Riggo-toni
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1 minute ago, Riggo-toni said:

It is a choice for at least 90% of the people out there. You can't possibly argue it is genetic when melting pot America has by far the highest obesity rates, and countries like Kuwait who adopted American fast food chains are now trending in the same direction. Moving from NJ to GA, it's stunning to me how far everyone is down here, but every time there's lunch provided at work it's high carb junk because that's the diet of choice here.

 

The nutritional value of your food is entirely dependent upon the ground it grows from or is consumed from ... there is, quite literally, different nutritional value in a tomato grown in one part of the world v another. There is more to it, social factors, etc ...  it’s certainly not black & white.

 

 

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nsfw (language)

1 minute ago, volsmet said:

 

The nutritional value of your food is entirely dependent upon the ground it grows from or is consumed from ... there is, quite literally, different nutritional value in a tomato grown in one part of the world v another. There is more to it, social factors, etc ...  it’s certainly not black & white.

 

 

Oh bull****.

Anyone who gives up added sugars, refined carbs and sticks to fish, lean meats, non-starch veggies and low carb fruit and gets some degree of exercise will lose weight unless they are on some kind of meds.

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4 minutes ago, Riggo-toni said:

It is a choice for at least 90% of the people out there. You can't possibly argue it is genetic when melting pot America has by far the highest obesity rates, and countries like Kuwait who adopted American fast food chains are now trending in the same direction. Moving from NJ to GA, it's stunning to me how far everyone is down here, but every time there's lunch provided at work it's high carb junk because that's the diet of choice here.

 

There is a lot wrong with this. Genetics does play a small role while society plays a huge role in obesity. We're a country that is being built around cars and we have jobs that call for a lot of sitting. We are bombarded with ads of food and food companies certainly make a lot of **** that is both additive and terrible. Bigger is better is celebrated in some restaurants. And on and on. 

 

Sure, some of it is a choice but it ain't easy. 

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1 hour ago, CousinsCowgirl84 said:

You guys are rediculous. My point is that choice isn’t a good reason to desciminate against someone. A gay person can choose to hide their orientation but shouldn’t have to. You can’t discriminate against a gay person unless you know they are gay. And you can’t know they are gay unless they choose to let it be known. Choice. That’s it.

 

 

Buzzette is trying to make some obscure point based on a technicality in the law. Whatever...

What obscure point? I was explaining the actual law. Facts are good for effective arguments. 

 

 
 
 
1 hour ago, CousinsCowgirl84 said:

 

How would you feel about discriminating against someone who was convicted of a felony in the past but has done their time?

This is actually another form of discrimination that is now being "worked through". It's called "Ban the Box". It moves the "are you a felon or ever convicted of a crime" to either never happen or only happen AFTER offer of a position.

 

 

29 minutes ago, Riggo-toni said:

Obesity is a choice. No one should be refused for a job in a field like IT, for example, but making it a protected class is fraught with peril.  Insurance companies are allowed to charge higher rates for smoking; shouldn't they also be allowed to charge more for the obese? I am a type 2 diabetic, but unlike the vast majority of people with my condition, I am thin (6 ft and 160 lbs). I am quite careful about my diet. I know other diabetics who have no restraint whatsoever.

They can charge higher rates due to experience. So if they utilize insurance at a higher amount, their premiums will be adjusted to cover costs. The great news is, this impacts you as well, if you are on your employer's group health insurance. As EVERYONE's premium goes up. 

 

 
 
1
21 minutes ago, volsmet said:

Larry, are you on a pad/phone? The issue you had has come about on my iPad a time or two. 

Autophagy/water fasting/low sugar life style. 🙌

no there's something weird going on with a couple of my posts. I can't edit them, delete them, or anything. Super odd. 

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