, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 177-189

Weight Discrimination in the American Workplace: Ethical Issues and Analysis

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Abstract

Research providing consistent evidence of pervasive discrimination against overweight job applicants and employees in the American workplace raises important questions for organizational stakeholders. To what extent is the disparate treatment of job applicants or employees based on their weight ethically justified? Are there aspects of weight discrimination that make it more acceptable than discrimination based on other characteristics, such as race or gender? What operational steps can employers take to address concerns regarding the ethical treatment of overweight individuals in the workplace? This article investigates these and related questions. Its purpose is to provide information and analysis that will assist organizations in formulating ethical responses to a widespread phenomenon: weight discrimination in the workplace. Although its focus is the American workplace, the proposed employer ethical obligations and the practical guidance that is provided are viewed as generalizing across countries and cultures.