As of right now there is no specific law in Massachusetts that protects an individual if they believe they were discriminated against in the work place as a result of being too fat or short. This type of discrimination can manifest itself in the form of wrongful termination, failure to promote or a failure to be hired.
Currently the Massachusetts General Laws regarding discrimination reads; It shall be an unlawful practice for an employer, to refuse to hire, employ, to bar or to discharge an individual from employment based on their race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, (which doesn’t include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor as the sexual object), genetic information and lastly their ancestry. It also states that the employer can’t discriminate against the individual for the following; individual compensation, or in terms, condition or privileges of employment, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification. Massachusetts General Laws c. 151B § 4.
Massachusetts has proposed an amendment to its civil rights and discrimination laws under Massachusetts General Laws c. 151B. As of now there is a pending bill before the state legislature that would make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s weight or height. The law currently requires that a person who was terminated or treated unfairly in the workplace demonstrate that he/she was treated differently from another employees who holds either the same job title or holds a similar position in the workplace. Also under current law a person who is claiming that their weight or height is the basis of their discriminating factors must prove that their weight or height qualifies as a handicap disability, thereby substantially limiting a major life activity. Massachusetts courts have held that limiting ones ability to work qualifies as a major life activity.
If this proposed amendment is approved, Massachusetts would be only the second state in the nation, behind the Michigan to prohibit such discrimination. Although it should be noted that the District of Columbia bans discrimination on appearance and San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California, bar weight and height discrimination. This proposed bill comes as the Federal government released the latest statistics on the percentage of Americans that are obese, claiming that over 32% of Americans are obese as measured by their Body Mass Index (BMI).