Weight could be Affecting Hiring Choices

May 31, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Some 60% of executives responding to a recent survey admitted to either being influenced by a job applicant's weight or possibly being influenced.

A news release from HR.BLR.com said when it asked respondents whether an applicant’s weight has influenced their hiring decision, the results showed:

  • Yes – 25%
  • Maybe unconsciously – 35%
  • No – 40%

“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,” said Susan Prince, managing editor at Business & Legal Reports, which operates HR.BLR.com, in the news release. “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 pointed out in the announcement, at least one state and several municipalities have their own laws prohibiting weight discrimination. Prince said employers might be avoiding overweight applicants because of obesity’s negative impact on health insurance costs.

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