Ridout Barron


Weight discrimination a human rights issue?

Advocates in Manitoba are prompting discussion about expanding the human rights laws to cover individuals facing discrimination due to their weight, according to a recent report. If they are successful in mandating change in their own province, Alberta could see a similar shift in how discrimination is defined, not only in the workplace but universally. As of right now, weight discrimination is only considered a violation in certain scenarios. 

Many advocates are supporting the words of Liberal MPPs who are calling for weight discrimination to be given equal due alongside other forms of workplace discrimination. They have cited examples in which individuals are passed over for promotion as a result of their body type, in circumstances wherein that type has no bearing on their ability to do a particular job. Others are pointing to incidences in which people are denied access to particular surgeries due to their weight. 

The current laws state that weight discrimination is only considered as such when weight is also considered a physical disability. In this case it is covered under existing legislation prohibiting discrimination based on physical disabilities, but Liberal MPPs are asking for this definition to be extended. For the moment, proposed bills to accomplish this goal are being supported by NDP representation as well. 

There exists in Alberta and across the nation a wide variety of discrimination that can be suffered by people of all types. Particularly in a workplace scenario, it is important for individuals to understand their rights under provincial law. No one deserves to work in an environment where they are bullied or otherwise held back for unfair reasons. 

Source: employmentlawtoday.com, "Manitoba Liberals want to have weight discrimination in human rights code", Steve Lambert, Nov. 24, 2016

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