Under the title ‘Leading employment judges call for law banning ‘fattism’ in workplace’, the Independent reported this week: ‘A leading judge has said overweight workers should have the power to tackle “fattist” discrimination in the workplace by suing colleagues who make inappropriate comments about body size.’
Whilst the Equality Act 2010 aims to improve equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants, as yet there is no law to protect those overweight, or indeed underweight, against abuse and discrimination. Philip Rostant, a judge specialising in employment law said in the same article that such laws would prevent prejudice against those of “non-ideal weight”, who he claims also find it more difficult to get jobs and are at higher risk of being sacked.
The Equality Act of 2010 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against people in the workplace within the following 9 protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
There are several types of discrimination such as direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation. The way in which a member of staff has been allegedly discriminated against will determine which type or types of discrimination apply within their protected characteristic.
To nurture a culture of fairness within the workplace makes good business sense. Employees must feel confident that if they are a victim of, or a witness to, some form of discrimination, they feel able to report the situation and know that it will be dealt with appropriately.
All employers should have a policy in place so employees know what is acceptable and expected of them as individuals and as part of the organisation. This process will ensure companies stay within the law, promote equality and prevent discrimination.
If you would like help to implement policies to ensure that both employers and employees are protected against discrimination call Charlie Lloyd on 01737 336336 or email us.