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Researcher Sees Prevalence Of Weight Discrimination In Workplace

Call it the hidden discrimination. But those who are overweight, particularly women, are often paid less, denied promotions, or simply not hired -- all because of their physical appearance, says Mark Roehling, assistant professor of management at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business. His own research, plus his examination of 29 other studies, found that the worst case scenario is to be overweight and female. He also found that even slightly overweight women earned less money than other women in similar jobs. What's more, says Roehling, "if ... three people ... all have the same objective qualifications ..., the overweight person is evaluated more negatively than the ex-felon or the ex-mental patient." Discrimination against the overweight individual within the workplace, he says, "is the last bastion of socially acceptable discrimination." Indeed, many of those who participated in the various studies, he says, were "forward in admitting that they were making decisions based upon weight." The only state with a law against weight discrimination is Michigan. Several U.S. cities have laws that prohibit discrimination based on appearance.

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