Obese Workers Should Be Allowed to SUE Over Office ‘Fattism’, Claims Judge
However, fat people are protected only if they can prove they are also disabled.
Judge Rostant, who is training director for the Employment Tribunals of England and Wales, also warned larger people are paid less on average than thinner colleagues.
Overweight workers could soon have the power to sue their colleagues for cruel remarks about their size, a leading judge has claimed.
Philip Rostant, a judge specialising in employment law, said the only way to tackle so-called ‘fattist’ discrimination in the workplace is through legislation. He said such laws would prevent bias against those of ‘non-ideal weight’, who often find it harder to get jobs and are at greater risk of being sacked.
Judge Rostant, who is training director for the Employment Tribunals of England and Wales, also warned larger people are paid less on average than thinner colleagues. In an academic paper, co-authored with Tamara Hervey, a professor of law at Sheffield University, he warned the workplace can be a tough place for heavy employees. 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.’ Legislation could mean abusive terms such as ‘fatty’ or a refusal to employ or promote people because of their weight would bring similar penalties as discriminating against ethnic minorities or gay people. The paper points out that discrimination against people because of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability are all outlawed under the Equality Act of 2010.
However, fat people are protected only if they can prove they are also disabled. In 1993 about 14 per cent of adults were obese, defined as having a body mass index of more than 30. That figure has risen to about 25 per cent now. The increase has led to the rise of ‘fat activism’ to outlaw discrimination, the Sunday Times reported. The academic paper said: ‘ Being overweight, or even obese, is not in itself a prohibited ground of discrimination in UK law, or in the law of the European Union. ‘This situation leaves a gap in the law which is remediable only by legislative reform.’
Earlier this month, a Sheffield Hallam University study revealed 181 recruiters given identical CVs with accompanying photographs depicting fat and thin people rejected almost all the candidates who were fat.