Massachusetts Height & Weight Anti-Discrimination Laws
As reported by the Associated Press last Friday by Ken Maguire, Boston Representitive Byron Rushing is sponsoring a bill to add height and weight to the anti-discrimination laws. This would provide legal protection for individuals in the workplace as well as while undergoing real estate transactions. According to Rushing (who is black, slim and of average height), he proposed this out of a desire to defend civil rights.
While I'm perfectly clear about that I see that this discrimination occurs, it's equally clear most people don't really believe that the issue is anything serious. Some choice comments from the BostonChannel.com forums prove enlightening on public opinion:
- I'm so sick of people using 'discrimination' as a tool to demand special services. The airlines have seats in the planes, there is NO discrimination, you're welcome to sit in it. IF you don't fit, who's fault is that? Discrimination is so abused. Everyone has the right to work, to be all that they can be and there is no finer country, but stop complaining, stop using excuses and stop looking outward, look inward and figure out ways to succeed, just the way our parents and grandparents all did. If you are too short to fly a jet plane, then get a different job don't expect a jet plane to be specially configured just for you....that's discrimination. You're getting something that no one else is.
- So I looked up the exact definition of Discrimination: treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. So would the 'group' that these people belong to be over-weight people? I believe the real reason discrimination acts were brought into effect were to protect sex, race and religious beliefs. Not to protect people who chow on fast food a little too much. If you're overweight and you think people treat you differently, go on a diet!
- Except for the most extreme situations you are never going to stop discrimination with a law. People looking for work or housing are discriminated against every day because they are the wrong color, religion, sex, handicapped, fat, tall and you name it....Its a way of life and human nature so better get used to it.
There is no justification for this. Unless a job requires some physical characteristic in order to perform the duties of the job (i.e., jockeys, models, etc.), there really is no reasonable justification to penalize an individual based on how he looks. All candidates should be given equal opportunity for employment or living accommodations. The reason that certain categories are protected under law, such as race or gender, is that they've been shown to be systematically treated at a disadvantage. Time and time again, it's been shown that the short are economically penalized for their height, all else being equal.
For race, this problem has even been shown to produce disadvantages that are generational because the effects (and wealth, or lack thereof) add up over time and are passed along to offspring. Arguably, height and weight could be considered genetically passed along as well. Could height and weight characteristics be another example?
I applaud Representative Rushing for his proposal. Can't Massachusetts do at least as well as Ontario, Michigan, San Francisco, Victoria (Australia), and Santa Cruz to protect our rights?
While most of the heated commenting has been in regards to weight, how do people feel about the proposed legislation?