Is it legal to not hire someone because of their weight?

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Is it legal to not hire someone because of their weight?

Their saying it’s not their policy but rather a requirement of their insurer.

Asked on January 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is a tricky one, and you are advised to consult with an employment attorney for a definitive answer. The short answer is, to the extent the weight issue may be considered to be a "disability"--and not all physical characteristics or issues are disabilities; it depends on the medical classification and degree to which the person can control it--then discrimination against a prospective employee on its basis may be illegal. That said, employers may take physical characteristics into account, even ones otherwise normally protected, if necessary for the job or safety. To use a broad and absurd example: a blind man has no right to be hired as a bus driver. In the case of weight, if it can be shown that excess weight compromises doing the job or safety, then even if the weight were considered a disability, it would probably be legal to make a judgment on this basis.


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