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Half of UK employers are prejudiced against the obese

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Nearly half (45%) of British employers admit they are less inclined to recruit an applicant if he or she is obese, according to law firm Crossland Employment Solicitors.

Of the 1,000 employers surveyed, 61% said they would worry about the potential costs associated with the side effects of obesity, while 63% cited concerns about potential discrimination claims in future.

A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice decided that the effects of obesity could constitute a disability, and as such obese staff could be able to bring discrimination claims against their employers.

But according to the research, a quarter (26%) of businesses said they were unaware about the laws around employing obese workers. Half (51%) didn't know that if an obese candidate were to tell an employer at interview stage about their long-term health condition, and then they were not offered the role, they could claim disability discrimination.

The survey also discovered some regional discrepancies, with employers in Scotland and the East Midlands less likely to discriminate.

Crossland Employment Solicitors managing director Beverley Sunderland said organisations need “to be more careful at every stage of recruitment and retention”.

She also cited the recently rolled out government initiative Fit for Work, which aims to support people with health conditions back into work.

She added: “The area of disability discrimination is a complicated one. Even though an occupational therapist or trained nurse undertaking any future Fit for Work plans may say that an employee is not disabled, it will always be a matter of fact for a tribunal to decide.”