Part I will examine past and present attitudes regarding obesity in US society and will discuss the employment challenges obese individuals face because of weight discrimination. Further, Part I will survey US statutory laws at the federal, state, and local levels that currently protect against particular instances of weight discrimination. In sum, this Part aims to provide the current legal and social landscape in the United States for protecting individuals against employment discrimination based on their weight. Part II will look at France’s cultural bias against obesity and its laws against physical appearance discrimination. Part II then will analyze French statutory law and legislative history. This Part will ground the discussion in cases that have arisen in French media involving physical appearance discrimination based on weight, including an investigation by France’s human rights watch institution, Le Défenseur des droits. Overall, this perspective on French law will form the foundation for analyzing the extent of protection that the United States may feasibly adopt to protect individuals against weight discrimination. Part III juxtaposes France’s laws prohibiting physical appearance discrimination with current US federal law to highlight the ways in which the United States falls short of its promise of equal protection for all by permitting employment discrimination based on an individual’s weight. This Part posits that US law may serve as a tool to catalyze important social change in the public’s perception of obesity, based on a similar shift in public perception that occurred in France following the adoption of its laws prohibiting physical appearance discrimination. Ultimately, this Note argues that the United States must act to eliminate the pervasive discrimination against obese individuals by passing national legislation making employment decisions based on weight unlawful.
Michael L. Huggins,
Not "Fit" for Hire: The United States and France on Weight Discrimination in Employment,
38 Fordham Int'l L.J. 889
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol38/iss3/6