A leading employment judge has demanded new laws to help the overweight fight “fattism” by allowing them to sue colleagues who offend them.
Philip Rostant, the training director for the Employment Tribunals of England and Wales, claimed in an academic paper that fat people are paid on average less and are more likely to be fired.
He argued that new laws could stop such “prejudice” against people with what he called “non-ideal weight”. The paper insists that “fattism” should feature along side other hate crimes such as racism and homophobia.
It points out that currently under the Equality Act of 2010 discrimination against people because of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability are all outlawed.
Fat people however can only claim such protected status if they can also prove that their weight is so debilitating that it constitutes a disability.
“Being overweight, or even obese, is not in itself a prohibited ground of discrimination in UK law, or in the law of the European Union,” the paper says. Claiming: “This situation leaves a gap in the law which is remediable only by legislative reform”.
If enacted, the proposals would result in the vast majority of people in the UK being classed as a “protected” or victimised group.
According to an analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, nearly two-thirds of men and women in the UK were obese or overweight in 2014.
The paper was co-authored with Tamara Hervey, a professor of law at Sheffield University. The pair explained:
“People of non-ideal weight (overweight or severely underweight) are subjected to discrimination, in the workplace and elsewhere, based on attitudinal assumptions and negative inferences… such as that they are insufficiently self-motivated to make good employees.”
According to the Independent, the paper adds: “Being overweight, or even obese, is not in itself a prohibited ground of discrimination in UK law, or in the law of the European Union.
“This situation leaves a gap in the law which is remediable only by legislative reform.”
Feminists and left wing activists allied to the “fat acceptance” movement have been calling for similar measures for many years, arguing that obesity is acceptable, beautiful and even healthy.
Such campaigners often call on the overweight to be “body positive” rather than lose weight, and have been lobbying to have the labelling people as “fat” made into an illegal form of discrimination.