What constitutes workplace discrimination?

I sent in my resume to a housing authority for an executive directors position that was listed in a local paper. I attended the interview, was asked about 6 questions on acronymns that they use in their housing authority. I received a denial letter about 3 days later stating “due to my resume and appearance they chose another person”. I am overweight but have a ton of education and experience that would be very beneifical for this position. This was a real blow to my self esteem and seems unjust.

Asked on March 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, while this might be "discrimination" in the everyday  sense of the word, from a legal point of view, it does not appear to be actionable or illegal discrimination. Most alleged discrimination, or treating one employee or prospective employee differently than others, is in fact legal; only those kinds of discrimination specifically prohibited by law are illegal. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability; MO adds a few additional categories, such as ancestry or national origin--but neither federal nor your state's law appears to protect against discrimination based on weight or appearance. Therefore, it seems as if this was legal.

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