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Weight Discrimination: A Multidisciplinary Analysis


Protection against obesity discrimination is extremely limited under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). No obese plaintiff has won using the actual disability theory, but a few have won under the “perceived disability” theory. Weight-related appearance standards are legal. We estimate weight-based wage penalties for young men and women. We find that mildly obese (20% over standard weight) white women experience greater wage penalties than black men experience for weight that is 100% over standard weight. Men do not experience wage penalties until their weight exceeds standard weight by over 100 lb. A “gender-plus” analysis under Title VII is more appropriate than the ADA for addressing the weight-based wage penalties that women experience.

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Maranto, C.L., Stenoien, A.F. Weight Discrimination: A Multidisciplinary Analysis. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 12, 9–24 (2000).

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  • weight discrimination
  • obesity
  • gender-plus discrimination
  • sex differences
  • wage differentials