Boston (WWLP) - The state Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee voted 7 to 1 in support of legislation that prevents work, insurance or housing discrimination based on height and weight. Supporters of the bill said weight discrimination at work is more common than discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
“And people would say ‘is that too much detail to legislate?’ No, I don’t believe so. One, fundamentally, no one should be discriminated on period,” said Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange). “[Height and weight discrimination] does affect people’s compensation because it’s one of those perhaps unconscious biases.”
But some state lawmakers oppose or have mixed feelings about the legislation. They question putting further restrictions on businesses for problems that could perhaps be solved internally. They’re also waiting to see more concrete evidence of height and weight discrimination.
“It just passed the first step out of committee, we’ve got a long way to go before it even gets back on to the House floor,” said Rep. Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield). “I think we need more data to find out exactly what’s going on in the workplace to see if we really need to do this.”
Bill supporters who testified back in June said it’s a common, but false belief, that obesity is a character flaw – And that people are often unaware of weight discrimination until they lose weight and are offered promotions or work opportunities.
The bill adds to a growing list of anti-discriminatory classifications that include race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.