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Fat-shaming happens a lot in society, and the workplace is no exception. Body shaming can be damaging when it comes from your colleagues, but it’s even worse when it comes from your boss. If you have constantly been the object of workplace jests regarding your body weight, the question “My boss called me fat, can I sue?” could be prominent on your mind.
Many overweight people experience discrimination almost every day at work. Globally, approximately 25 to 35 per cent of body-shaming incidents have been reported. Therefore, the availability of an effective legal response becomes a pretty crucial question.
This article will answer this question and explore all your options and possibilities against workplace weight discrimination and abuse. Contact Claims Bible for more information about the compensation process for workplace discrimination.
Workplace weight stigma has received increasing attention in the last few years. As a result, there have been more vociferous campaigns about creating stigma-free workplaces. However, this challenge continues to persist.
Study shows that weight discrimination is a significant link between obesity and low psychological well-being. As an employee, putting up with weight stigma can do your mental health a lot of harm. Constant jests and weight-related discrimination from employers and superiors can reduce efficiency and cause low self-esteem.
Negative weight-related remarks are one of the manifestations of weight stigma in the workplace. Your boss could also look at you disapprovingly while you have lunch. As an employer who has been on the receiving end of weight-based jibes, are there steps you can take to stem the tide?
Below are some of them.
If your boss makes a negative remark about your weight, one step you can take is to begin a conversation. Let your boss know why such statements are not healthy or welcome. They should also be aware of the negative impact such remarks can have on your job performance and, by extension, the company’s interest.
Many employers or workplace superiors may just be unaware of the implications of their actions. However, ensuring they are aware is an excellent place to start combating the challenge.
If negative weight-related remarks persist from your boss, consider making a report with the appropriate department. In many offices, Human Resources handles such complaints.
You can also approach the offices of your boss’s superiors. In your complaint, be sure to point out that your work environment is hostile.
Alternatively, if you are not convinced about getting a fair hearing from the organisation, there are other bodies you can meet. For example, several reputable non-governmental organisations focus on workplace weight-related challenges.
These organisations can take up your case with your company and provide the necessary pressure to provoke action. You can also take legal action at the Employment Tribunal .
Initiating legal procedures against an employer isn’t a decision that many people will quickly arrive at. However, it could be pretty necessary to do so on many occasions. UK law allows employees to sue their bosses for several reasons. These include health and safety breaches, workplace accidents, harassment, and discrimination.
Before taking legal steps against your workplace superior, explore the option of dialogue. Talk to your employers and see their responses. If you aren’t satisfied with their reactions, you can seek redress in court.
First, check for other employees who may have similar complaints. Take care to identify trusted colleagues who have similar experiences and can join you in taking legal action. Suing alongside other employees will add more weight to your case. Another way to solidify your claim is to submit any documentary evidence of the breach of your rights.
There are laws against several forms of workplace discrimination in the UK. The Equality Act protects the rights of employees. Under this Act, employees have protection from varied forms of discrimination.
The Equality Act protects employees from other discrimination based on the following characteristics:
Unfortunately, these protections do not cover workplace fat-shaming. However, there has been a continued effort to introduce legislation covering abuse based on body mass. In the meantime, if your boss calls you fat, you can seek remedy in civil courts as such actions are considered anti-social behaviour.
There have been unfortunate cases where employers were relieved of duty due to their body mass. What’s more tragic is that the Equality Act barely protects the rights of such individuals. So, yes, one can be fired for being overweight.
On a brighter note, there have been few cases where the courts have ruled in favour of dismissing obese employees. In one such case , the employee was sacked due to extreme obesity, with the employer claiming that the condition restricts optimum work performance.
In this case, the judge ruled that since the employees’ weight restricted the individual from performing their workplace duty, it could be characterised as a disability. Therefore, the judge opined that dismissal violated the Equality Act under the disabilities characteristic.
There is no fixed body mass index for which the court will deem an employee a disabled person. Instead, the court looks at every case and examines its peculiarities before deciding.
There are several workplace stereotypes about overweight people. Many employers believe that overweight people are lazy and unproductive. Consequently, a trend of workplace discrimination against plus-sized employees has thrived for many years.
A study that aimed to discover the general workplace perception about overweight persons showed some curious results. It showed that almost half of employers surveyed were likely to deny employment to prospective employees who are fat.
This result shows that you are almost as likely to miss out on employment opportunities if you are overweight. Unfortunately, again, UK laws do not specifically address this issue.
If you have suffered any form of discrimination that is covered under the Equality Act, you can sue your boss for damages. The next question will be how much your case is worth. But, first, let’s highlight the possible claims you can file against discrimination.
If you still have your job, discrimination claims include:
You have the right to get paid for annual leaves. This right extends even until your appointment or employment is terminated. In addition, you are entitled to receive holiday pays that have accrued over the years. If your employer withholds these remunerations, you can make legal demands for compensation.
If you have been owed wages in part or in full by your employer, you can sue for damages. A failure by your employer to pay wages based on any form of discrimination is a violation of the terms of your employment.
If your employer fails to honour the terms of any flexible working arrangement, you can sue for damages. However, you will have to prove that the case is different for other employees under the same arrangement.
If you have been relieved of your employment, your possible claims will be;
If you have been unfairly dismissed from work, the basic award claim is one of the actions you can bring against your employer. To calculate your basic award, factor in your age at the point of dismissal, your gross weekly pay, and how long you worked for the organisation or employer who laid you off.
If your company made you redundant after working for them for at least two years, the law says the company owes you redundancy pay. The amount you get for redundancy pay depends on how long you’ve been on the job, your current salary, and your age while you worked.
You are entitled to notice pay if you abide by the statutory notice period stated by your employer in your contract. Your notice pay will increase if your employment contract specifies a notice period beyond the statutory period allowed by law. Failure by your employee to release your notice pay is an offence under the law.
Note that every case is not the same. Some variables will separate yours from another.
If you are overweight, you deserve a fair and harassment-free working environment. You also shouldn’t experience any form of discrimination. While the UK laws do not specifically protect you from weight-related abuse, you can utilise the other protections in the Equality Act. In addition, if you have been discriminated against in the workplace, you have the right to sue for damages.
Before you do, there is a need to know just how much your claim is worth. With a good idea of what your case should be worth, you can make better decisions to recover compensation. Claims Bible has helped many employees know how much they can receive from their employers.
Find out more about employment law in our blog or on our No Win No Fee Employment Solicitors page or start the process by filling out our contact form.
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