Can my employer make me change my body weight?

Can my employer require me to come up with an action plan for me to change my body weight? My employer has told me that our customer wants this action plan for various reasons. I objected and was then told it could be looked at as a safety issue. I have been to the doctor and have been told by my doctor that besides my asthma and my vitamin D being a little low I am in very good health. Is this legal, and do I have any recourse to get them to stop?

Posted  09-19-2012

Ann Kiernan replies:

Call a lawyer! I don’t know how large you are, but morbid obesity (twice the recommended body weight) is considered a disability by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which settled such a case in July, 2012, and by a number of states.

Even if you are not obese, the law may well protect you. Michigan expressly forbids discrimination based on height and weight, for instance. Further, under the 2009 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers violate the law if they discriminate against an employee because of an actual or perceived impairment, whether the employee has an actual disability or not.

If you do not know a local employment lawyer, you can contact your local or state bar association, or try the National Employment Lawyers Association for a referral. Good luck.


Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.