Weight Discrimination: A Multidisciplinary Analysis
Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal
Protection against obesity discrimination is extremely limited under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). No obese plaintiff has won using the actual disability theory, but a few have won under the perceived disability theory. Weight-related appearance standards are legal. We estimate weight-based wage penalties for young men and women. We find that mildly obese (20% over standard weight) white women experience greater wage penalties than black men experience for weight that is 100% over standard weight. Men do not experience wage penalties until their weight exceeds standard weight by over 100 lb. A gender-plus analysis under Title VII is more appropriate than the ADA for addressing the weight-based wage penalties that women experience.