BLR News

5/31/2005

Hiring can be a weighty issue

Old Saybrook, CT - Perhaps job hunters should add "drop a few pounds" to their list of things to do in preparation for their next job interview, based on the results of an online poll at HR.BLR.com.

The poll asked, "Has someone's weight ever influenced your decision on whether to hire him or her?" The responses broke down this way:

Yes - 25%

Maybe unconsciously - 35%

No - 40%

The poll, conducted May 12-19, drew 552 participants.

"While federal law bars discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, age, race, or national origin, it does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of physical appearance, such as weight," observed Susan Prince, managing editor at Business & Legal Reports, which operates HR.BLR.com. "Some workers and applicants who believe they've been unjustly treated for being overweight have sought protection under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but the courts have generally ruled that obesity does not meet the ADA's definition of a disability."

Nevertheless, Prince added, at least one state and several municipalities have their own laws prohibiting weight discrimination, so employers need to be cognizant of them.

Prince also speculated that employers might be avoiding overweight applicants because of obesity's negative impact on health insurance costs. She stressed, however, that those who participated in this poll weren't asked about that.

HR.BLR.com, "State HR Answers and Tools Online," provides subscribers with plain-English analysis of the workplace laws in all 50 states. And for HR professionals who need to know what the ADA does cover, BLR offers a free download, "Managing Disabilities in the Workplace": http://www.blr.com/82008400/PRS17

About BLR
Old Saybrook, Conn.-based BLR produces plain-English compliance and training resources for HR, compensation, safety, and environmental managers. For more information and a free catalog, call 800-727-5257 or visit www.BLR.com.