Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Should We Discriminate Against Lardies?

Would you employee this woman as your child's nanny?

A close friend of ours is in the market for a nanny for her one year-old son so she can return to the workforce. She was particularly impressed by one CV and invited her around for an interview. My wife called her that night to see how the interview went. "No way". she replied "She was massively overweight."

My first reaction to this blatant lardist viewpoint was one of shock and distaste. One shouldn't discriminate against potential employees on account of their weight, i thought. But on further reflection, i have come to the conclusion that she had every right to make this call, and that her decision is perfectly justifiable.

A commonly held libertarian viewpoint is that employers should be free to discriminate against any employee - for instance on the grounds of their skin colour, their hair colour - basically any reason they like. The thinking is that if an employer gets a reputation as a racist, people will show their distaste by boycotting his products and he will go out of business.

However, i have never subscribed to this viewpoint. Not only do i think it is unworkable in practice, but i have a fundamental problem with employers discriminating on the basis of characteristics which one is born with and cannot change, for example skin or hair colour, height, sexual orientation and sex.

However, weight, unlike say, height, is something one can change. Yes - i know a very small percentage of the population have 'glandular issues' which mean they can't lose weight, but this is only a very small proportion.

And those that want to lose weight but can't, demonstrate a lack of will power and low self-motivation. Hardly the stuff of a promising employee.

Likewise, some people are not at all bothered by their overweightness and are proud of it. Some employers might find this lack of vanity, and even a slightly rebellious nature ('i refuse to conform to the government mandated health and size requirements') a particularly appealing characteristic in an employee. Net - it should be up to the employer to determine whether a lardy employee is what they are looking for.

Over at Stumbling and Mumbling, they discuss a recent report showing that lardies really do suffer discrimination in the workplace. I am not at all surprised. Maybe the prospect of reduced job opportunities wil provide lardies who wish to lose weight with the incentive they need.