Can employers approach employees regarding weight?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


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

Answered 4 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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