February 6, 2023

Florida Law - Of Counsel

The Florida Bar steps up its diversity efforts

Arnell Bryant-Willis, the Bar's first diversity initiatives manager, will help make it happen.

Art Levy | 3/22/2012

Joking Aside

Phyllis Towzey
Phyllis Towzey
A federal court has upheld new rules in the Americans with Disabilities Act that give obese people more protection against discrimination in the workplace. Phyllis J. Towzey, a St. Petersburg employment attorney, anticipates rising numbers of weight-related suits as a result, particularly cases involving overweight workers who feel they have been mistreated or passed over for promotions because of their weight.

The takeaway: Companies shouldn't consider weight when making personnel decisions beyond ensuring that employees are able to perform the physical requirements of their jobs. Towzey adds that supervisors would be wise to not even mention the issue of weight.

"Isolated comments can be used later on to show that the supervisor and the company as a whole had a bias against people who are overweight," Towzey says. "People better not make jokes anymore, like 'Oh, we better get an extra dozen doughnuts —?Joe is here today.' Joe might file a lawsuit."

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