Can employers approach employees regarding weight?

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Can employers approach employees regarding weight?

My wife and I began eating healthy and staying active January of 2017. We have both since lost weight 20 lbs for me, 25 lbs for her and gotten in better shape. She has been approached repeatedly at work for being thinner that she has been in the past. Her boss approached her saying that some people have had concerns regarding her weight loss and it is becoming a repeated issue and a very uncomfortable position for my wife. She is an accountant at a hotel and her personal appearance is not a functional part of her job. Are employers allowed to make employees uncomfortable regarding appearance/weight? My wife is perfectly healthy and within a normal BMI scale. She is stronger and more fit than she has been and we are not sure how to make this go away so she can feel comfortable at her job.

Asked on August 14, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, this would be considered a form of employment discrimination.harrassment only if your wife's treatment had to do with her religion, race, gender, disability, age (over 40), or other "legally protected class". Otherwise, while these comments are unsettling for your wife, they are not illegal. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will", which means that a business can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit, absent an employment contract/union agreement to the contrary.


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