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Sterling Employment Law

Michigan is the only state with weight discrimination laws

In this day and age, the notion of workplace discrimination based on weight is inconceivable to many Michigan residents. Unfortunately, it is a problem across the entire United States. Two studies conducted within the past decade reveal a surprising and disturbing pattern in this little known area of workplace discrimination.

In 2008, researchers with Yale University conducted a study highlighting the problem of weight-based workplace discrimination. The study revealed that 5 percent of male workers and 10 percent of female workers have suffered weight discrimination such as being turned down for work. Another study by Vanderbilt University showed that across a wide variety of industries, overweight women receive less pay than their male colleagues do.

You might be relieved to learn that Michigan is the only state in the nation with laws that specifically forbid workplace discrimination based on weight. Your relief is justified, but that does not mean overweight workers in Michigan will never suffer from discrimination.

In fact, it has already happened at establishments that place an emphasis on appearance. A Hooters restaurant in Roseville, Michigan, was accused of threatening to terminate two female workers if they did not lose weight. Hooters denied these claims but it did admit to upholding an image standard that included the physical appearance of its workers.

The Hooters incidents were later settled privately, but the message still rings very loudly. In many cases, it is perfectly legal for your employer to terminate you if you do not look like their ideal employee. While Michigan does address these elements of workplace discrimination, it is still a good idea to bolster any claim you may make by acquiring legal representation.

Source: Motto, "49 States Legally Allow Employers to Discriminate Based on Weight," Areva Martin, Aug. 16, 2017

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