Obesity And Overweight: Causes Of Discrimination At Work

Overweight and obesity are the 5 th highest risk of death worldwide and killed at least 2.8 million lives each year. The proportion of people affected has been steadily increasing in recent years. Obesity and overweight are among the main criteria for discrimination at work, after age.

A report by the defender of rights and the International Labor Organization , concerning physical discrimination (physical appearance and dress) in hiring was published on February 15, 2016. Among the 1000 job seekers, aged 18 to 65 years, who were interviewed: 6% of men and 10% of women say they have experienced discrimination related to their physical appearance in obtaining a job. Appearance, an atypical dress style or body size would influence the recruiter’s choice.

Women: the most discriminated against

Women suffer twice as much discrimination in hiring because of their physical appearance than men (regardless of their age, weight, style, level of education, etc.).

Obese women are said to be discriminated against eight times more than women with a normal body mass index. For overweight women, four times more. For obese men, three times more.

Current situation

In France, the law of November 16, 2001 prohibits all forms of discrimination (physical, age, family situation, ethnicity, etc.) in the professional world.

Despite this, prejudices about obesity persist and what is put forward by society (the cult of thinness for example) continues to influence decisions during recruitment. For some people obesity means lack of drive, ineffectiveness, laziness, lack of willpower, faster burnout, or they may just be disgusted.

In addition, the vision of certain professions remains stereotypical (assistant, receptionist, salesperson, bouncer, etc.). As a result, corpulent people have more difficulty finding a position requiring direct contact with people outside the establishment.

Consequences of this discrimination

Unfortunately, this discrimination can last even after hiring (underqualified positions, fewer promotions than others, relationship difficulties, more frequent breaches of contract, no professional development, etc.). And above all, it can lead the people concerned to make decisions that endanger their health (serious psychological and physical consequences) or allow them to manage their life without being confronted with the professional world.

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