1887

n Journal for Juridical Science - The phenomenon of weight-based discrimination in South African employment

Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-252X
USD

 

Abstract

South African labour law is forever evolving to address new issues in the modern workplace. One such new consideration is weight-based discrimination. With obesity increasing worldwide, it permeates every aspect of life, not least of which the workplace. A range of preconceived notions about the overweight and the obese often cause employers' appearance prejudices to influence their employment decisions and practices, as is evident from the numerous court decisions worldwide dealing with weight-based discrimination in employment. This article first deconstructs the concept of 'weight discrimination', and then investigates the possible status of weight as a ground of unfair discrimination in South Africa. Even though South Africa is among the three most overweight nations in the world, and the country's judicial forums have already had to deal with a number of cases involving elements of weight-related bias in the workplace, no specific legislation or other measure exists to address this phenomenon. The right to dignity and equality is vehemently protected in the South African Constitution; yet, the legislature chose not to include weight in the specific prohibited grounds of discrimination. Thus, the article explores the possibility of bringing claims of weight-based discrimination under section 6(1) of the amended , as well as that of obesity being protected as a disability. Following a comparative overview of the legal positions in the United States of America, Australia, the European Union and the United Kingdom, the article concludes by suggesting possible solutions and recommendations to fill the void in South African labour law to effectively deal with weight-based discrimination in the workplace.


Die Suid-Afrikaanse arbeidsreg ontwikkel voortdurend om nuwe kwessies in die moderne werkplek te hanteer. Een so 'n nuwe oorweging is gewigsgebaseerde diskriminasie. Met vetsug wêreldwyd aan die toeneem, dring dit deur tot elke aspek van die lewe, veral ook die werkplek. Verskeie vooropgestelde idees oor oorgewig persone en vetsug beteken dikwels dat werkgewers se voorkomsvooroordele hul indiensnemingsbesluite en -praktyke beïnvloed, soos duidelik blyk uit al die hofuitsprake wêreldwyd wat met gewigsgebaseerde diskriminasie in die werkplek verband hou. Hierdie artikel ontleed eerstens die konsep van 'gewigsdiskriminasie' en ondersoek dan die moontlike status van gewig as 'n grond vir onbillike diskriminasie in Suid-Afrika. Al is Suid-Afrika onder die drie mees oorgewig nasies ter wêreld en moes die land se regsforums reeds 'n aantal sake rakende elemente van gewigsverwante vooroordeel in die werkplek aanhoor, bestaan daar geen spesifieke wetgewing of ander maatreël om die verskynsel te hanteer nie. Die reg op waardigheid en gelykheid word vurig beskerm in die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet; tog het die wetgewer gekies om nie gewig by die spesifieke verbode gronde vir diskriminasie in te sluit nie. Die artikel ondersoek dus die moontlikheid om eise van gewigsgebaseerde diskriminasie ingevolge artikel 6(1) van die gewysigde in te stel, sowel as om vetsug as 'n gestremdheid te beskerm. Na 'n vergelykende oorsig van die regstandpunt in die Verenigde State van Amerika, Australië, die Europese Unie en die Verenigde Koninkryk, sluit die artikel af deur moontlike oplossings en aanbevelings voor te stel om die leemte in die Suid-Afrikaanse arbeidsreg te vul om gewigsgebaseerde diskriminasie in die werkplek doeltreffend te hanteer.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/juridic/39/2/EJC172173
2014-12-01
2016-12-11

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error