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Can being overweight lead to workplace discrimination?

Everyone has personal biases and these biases can shape how we view or interpret others. Since everyone has personal biases, can people be held liable for their biases? When personal biases are present in a working environment and affect one's employment, someone's personal biases could create an unlivable work environment. A college professor recently conducted a study on the subject of obesity and its impact in a workplace. The results could impact employment in Kansas and Missouri.

The study presented 542 participants with a resume and a picture of hypothetical employment applicants. The hypothetical job applicants were applying for a job with a hotel. All of the resumes were similar, but the pictures showed men and women who were of average weight and some who were overweight. The results of the study indicate that the participants who reviewed the job applications had a bias against the overweight applicants.

The results also indicated a bias between the overweight men and woman applicants. The overall results were indicative of a bias that is referred to as a beauty bias. A beauty bias occurs when an employer has a bias against employees that are perceived by an employer to not have specific physical attributes.

Personal biases can become an issue at any stage of someone's employment, from the initial interview to a performance review of a senior employee. Employees who are victims of personal biases may be eligible for compensation through such claims as workplace discrimination or harassment. An experienced attorney can help a workplace victim of personal biases establish a claim against their employer and received their entitled compensation.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Diane Stafford: Obesity is often a factor in hiring," Diane Stafford, July 3, 2012

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