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Don’t gain weight while working at Coach, you might lose your job

Coach fired a woman in Michigan after she gained over 100 pounds. Bad news for them – Michigan is currently the only state with a weight discrimination law.

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Encouraged to watch The Biggest Loser

Coach may have taken on the wrong woman in the right state. In Michigan, Elizabeth DeLorean, a manager who worked at a Coach store for more than 10 years sued the store for firing her for her weight gain.

Her attorney has recounted incidents that indicated the store found DeLorean’s weight unacceptable. Her boss made comments about the “girl who used to bring in Lean Cuisine meals.” DeLorean was encouraged to watch “The Biggest Loser.”

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Coach has not commented on the case, as it is ongoing litigation. The only information forthcoming is from the fired manager and her attorney. The retailer has said that DeLorean was fired because of her overall performance, not her weight.

Michigan the only state with weight discrimination laws

It might be difficult for DeLorean to prove her case, but she does have a leg up. Michigan is the only state where weight discrimination is part of the civil rights law. It ranks right up there with religion, race, and height. This could give the DeLorean the edge. No other state offers this protection against a form of discrimination that is all too prevalent in the workplace, whether it’s entertainment or the boardroom.

In a 2013 lawsuit against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City went in favor of the hotel. Waitresses brought a discrimination case against the hotel for subjecting them to weigh-ins and suspension if they gained too much weight. The waitresses signed a contract before hire that they understood the policy. Thus, the judge sided with the hotel, stating that nothing within the law barred the actions of the hotel.

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Weight noted in formal evaluations

DeLorean had no such contract with Coach. When she was hired, she did weigh much less. She notes that she did gain almost 100 pounds over the ten years that she was employed at Coach. Her supervisors did address the weight gain in annual reviews, but also created a hostile environment, continually harping on her looks.

This could start the open season on weight discrimination cases

The outcome of the case is far from decided. We will have to watch the courts to see how the case if finally adjudicated. In the meantime, even if you don’t live in Michigan, it’s time for businesses to look past the size of an individual as to how they do their job.

Study after study proves that weight discrimination is the norm in many workplaces. Overweight women typically earn less than female counterparts, and the gap is even greater when you compare their salary against men. Don’t think women aren’t watching. DeLorean’s case may be the opening gambit against businesses that discriminate against overweight men and women.

#DiscriminationSuit

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Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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