The State of Washington has joined the ranks of places where it is no longer legal to discriminate against fat people.
I wish I could say it is because, like the State of Michigan, the City/County of San Francisco, and a few other places, they passed a law that made it illegal.
However, they do have an antidiscrimination law in the State of Washington (one that covers more than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)) and their Supreme Court has decided that obesity is a protected class under that law!
In a 7-2 ruling, the high court said obesity is covered by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which protects employees with disabilities.
“Because obesity qualifies as an impairment under the plain language of our statute, it is illegal for employers in Washington to refuse to hire qualified potential employees because the employer perceives them to be obese,” Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote for the majority.
Many people don’t realize how prevalent fat discrimination is.
It is one thing to be looked upon with disdain, revulsion and even hatred, and mocked by a large section of society, it is a whole other thing to be legally discriminated against because of your weight.
Fat people are denied housing, jobs, are paid less than their non-fat peers, are incarcerated more and for longer, adoptions, etc.
I have often said that I think fat people should be protected under the ADA (for the most part we are not) because the ADA is not just about disability it is about being discriminated against because you are perceived to have a disability, and I think that is often the case for fat people.
And while I don’t like that obesity has been formally categorized as a medical condition, that is part of the reasoning the justices used to make their determination:
The ruling answered an inquiry from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the court to determine under what circumstances, if any, obesity qualified as an impairment. The justices said obesity “is recognized by the medical community as a ‘physiological disorder, or condition.’”
This is what is called legal precedent, and it is a baby step, but it is a baby step in the right direction.