Weight Discrimination

San Francisco Bay Area Height and Weight Discrimination Lawyers

Do laws protect people from unfair or inappropriate conduct based on their height, weight or size?

Height or weight discrimination is just one of many types of unjust or prejudicial treatments employees face on the job and that we fight in court. For more about our Employment Law legal services, please see our “Bay Area Employment Law Attorney” page. Or for other types of employee work-related issues we fight for our clients, see the links to the right.

Some employers refuse to hire people, or otherwise discriminate against them, based on their size particularly when the work involves interaction with the public or physical labor.  Typically height, weight, and size discrimination boils down to discriminating against people because they are perceived as being “fat.”

A recent survey found that 93% of employers would choose an applicant of normal weight over one that was obese. More than half of obese people believe that their employers have discriminated against them with women reporting higher levels of prejudice then men.  Many employers view “fat discrimination” as the last acceptable form of prejudice and this view is shaped by our society, which sees being overweight as a personal choice rather than an inherent characteristic of a person.

Only a few jurisdictions in California, including San Francisco, have a prohibition against height, weight, or size discrimination. In places where there are no such specific laws, you may be able rely on general disability discrimination and harassment laws.

Only a few jurisdictions in California, including San Francisco, have a prohibition against height, weight, or size discrimination. In places where there are no such specific laws, you may be able rely on general disability discrimination and harassment laws if the weight qualifies as a disability.

How does San Francisco law protect people of different weights and sizes at work?

Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to people of different sizes. If they choose not to, the burden is on the employer to show that an accommodation is unreasonable by demonstrating that making the accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity or the accommodation constitutes an undue burden defined as a significant difficulty or expense, taking into account the entity’s resources.

Employers must undertake readily achievable modifications in the workplace including, but not limited to, accessible furnishings, workplace layout, and equipment. The employer must give consideration to an employee seeking accommodation based on weight or height, unless the employer can demonstrate that another effective means exists or that the individual’s expressed choice is not required. Employers must ensure that common areas such as employee lounges, cafeterias, health units, and exercise facilities are accessible to people of all sizes.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against any individual because of their weight or height in any aspect of employment, including but not limited to recruitment, selection, hiring, wages, uniforms, hours and conditions of employment, promotion, training, development, or benefits.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against any individual because of their weight or height in any aspect of employment, including but not limited to recruitment, selection, hiring, wages, uniforms, hours and conditions of employment, promotion, training, development, or benefits.

The ordinance specifically provides that “An employer may not exclude a person from a ‘front office’ position or any other position because the employer believes the employee’s weight is not in keeping with a professional appearance. The wishes, tastes, or preferences of other employees or customers may not be asserted to justify discrimination.” An employer must make decisions strictly based on merit or fitness for a position, and cannot use weight or height standards unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they are legitimate occupational qualifications.

Employers must not harass or permit the harassment based on weight or height

The law specifically provides that harassment includes  “Unsolicited comments, advice, or literature recommending weight loss or gain are inappropriate. For example, a poster that proclaims ‘No Fat Cops’ and encourages officers to seek help from the department about losing weight is inappropriate. However, it is appropriate to advocate increased health and fitness for people of all sizes. An employee must never be subjected to comments regarding weight or height once the employee has stated that such comments are unwelcome. An employee may not be retaliated against for expressing that preference or for insisting on the right to be free from weight- and height-based discrimination and harassment.”

How does San Francisco law protect people of different weight and sizes outside of work?

The law’s weight and size protections extend beyond employment.  Business and employers must prevent the use of disrespectful language or behavior related to weight or height by its staff or by customers and clients at their place of business or while under their control. The person in charge must take corrective action to assure compliance such as telling the person making an offensive remark that the behavior is not allowed.

Services, facilities, and accommodations must be made available to people of different sizes and three illustrative examples are provided under the law:  there should be an adequate amount of seating without arms and with extra leg room throughout a venue, swimming pools need to have entry and exit architecture to accommodate people of different sizes, and gowns and uniforms provided to customers must include ones that fit differently sized people.  Home buyers, rental applicants, tenants, and those utilizing housing-related services must not be discriminated against based on weight or height and a landlord must make reasonable accommodations for people of different sizes.

Get Legal Representation for Your Weight Discrimination Case

Venardi Zurada LLP is a law firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area. We are experienced and effective attorneys who work on a contingency basis meaning that you do not pay us until we recover money for you.  We offer free consultations to evaluate whether or not you have a legal claim for size/weight discrimination or harassment.

GET A FREE CASE REVIEW

If you are an employee who feels their rights have been violated, or you need help negotiating or reviewing your employee contract, please call to speak to one of our expert employment law attorneys at (935) 937-3900 or submit the form to the right.

When litigation or mediation is involved, and we are able to take your case, there is never any fee or expense to you of any kind until you get paid! That means we pay all litigation costs which you will not be required to pay back, and we only get paid if you get paid.

We have four offices to serve you in San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael and Walnut Creek, and serve clients throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area including the entire Silicon Valley and throughout California.