A Weighty Lesson on Pregnancy Discrimination
Does your 'no overweight hires' policy violate Title VII by screening out pregnant women?
It’s the first full week of January, which means that lots of people are attempting to execute on their New Year’s resolutions. Many of those resolutions will focus on weight loss. What if your company does the same, and decides, for wellness or other reasons, not to hire anyone over a certain weight? If your company is in the business of weight loss, like Weight Watchers, for example, such a policy makes a lot of sense. What if, however, that policy results in your company refusing to hire a pregnant woman? Does your “no overweight hires” policy violate Title VII by screening out pregnant women?
According to EEOC v. WW Group (E.D. Mich. 12/2/13), the policy fails as violating Title VII’s proscription against pregnancy discrimination:
On the facts of this case, a reasonable juror could conclude that Broughton’s weight gain putting her above her goal weight was solely attributable to her pregnancy, that this weight gain was totally unrelated to her ability or inability to perform the job (as evidenced by the fact that WW permits pregnant group leaders to continue to conduct group meetings) and that she was wrongly denied the right to apply for a position with WW.