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Fetma och övervikt som diskrimineringsgrund i arbetslivet

Sandberg, Emelie LU (2017) JURM02 20172
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Mitt första intresse för ämnet diskriminering av övervikt och fetma väcktes när jag i ett re-staurangkök hörde en arbetsgivare neka en person intervju endast på grund av hennes vikt. Jag ansåg personligen att detta var ett felaktigt handlande och syftet med denna uppsats är att undersöka om det är tillåtet att missgynna en person endast på grund av dennes vikt. Genom klassisk rättsvetenskaplig metod anläggs både ett de lege lata och ett de lege ferenda perspek-tiv. Uppsatsen besvarar frågorna om det finns ett skydd för personer med övervikt eller fetma, hur skyddet i så fall ser ut samt min personliga åsikt om hur skyddet borde se ut.

Det finns studier på diskrimineringsområdet som undersökt fördomar som finns mot personer från... (More)
Mitt första intresse för ämnet diskriminering av övervikt och fetma väcktes när jag i ett re-staurangkök hörde en arbetsgivare neka en person intervju endast på grund av hennes vikt. Jag ansåg personligen att detta var ett felaktigt handlande och syftet med denna uppsats är att undersöka om det är tillåtet att missgynna en person endast på grund av dennes vikt. Genom klassisk rättsvetenskaplig metod anläggs både ett de lege lata och ett de lege ferenda perspek-tiv. Uppsatsen besvarar frågorna om det finns ett skydd för personer med övervikt eller fetma, hur skyddet i så fall ser ut samt min personliga åsikt om hur skyddet borde se ut.

Det finns studier på diskrimineringsområdet som undersökt fördomar som finns mot personer från arabmuslimska länder och personer som lider av övervikt. De visar att fördomar förelig-ger mot överviktiga i förhållande till normalviktiga. Fördomar mot överviktiga kan före-komma i vidare mån än de fördomar som föreligger mot arabmuslimska män. Trots det inne-håller rättskällorna ett uttryckligt diskrimineringsskydd för etnicitet, vilket saknas för övervikt och fetma.

Min undersökning omfattar svensk rätt, innefattande regeringsformen, LOA samt diskrimine-ringslagen. Internationell rätt såsom EU-rätten, Europakonventionen och FN-konventionen om rättigheter för personer med funktionsnedsättning är också viktiga rättskällor som omfat-tas.

Mina slutsatser de lege lata är att om övervikten endast är en utseendeaspekt saknas skydd för arbetstagare i privat sektor. För arbetstagare i offentlig anställning föreligger krav på sakliga grunder vid alla anställningsbeslut, vilket innebär att arbetsgivare inte kan underlåta att an-ställa en arbetstagare endast på grund av dennes utseende.

Det finns ett skydd för fetma även på den privata arbetsmarknaden, men skyddet aktualiseras endast i de fall fetman lett till en funktionsnedsättning vid tiden för missgynnandet. Det är inte helt klart hur långt principerna om fetma som funktionsnedsättning sträcker sig. Vad gäller exempelvis för de fall arbetsgivaren gör ett felaktigt antagande om att vikten gör att arbetsta-garen har sämre disciplin på arbetet eller kommer att bli sjukskriven i vidare mån än andra arbetstagare?

När det gäller funktionsnedsättning finns det viktiga EU-rättsliga principer, exempelvis be-träffande statistisk diskriminering och felaktiga antaganden. Det är emellertid inte helt klart om de går, och i så fall hur långt de går, att tillämpa på fetma. Ett klart svar på frågan kan endast erhållas genom att EU-domstolen eller Arbetsdomstolen gör tydliga ställningstaganden i nya rättsfall.

De lege ferenda anser jag att det är fel att en arbetsgivare, som missgynnar någon enbart på grund av personens utseende, kan vara helt säker på att handlandet är lagligt, samtidigt som den arbetsgivare som, med rätt eller fel, tror att övervikten eller fetman kan påverka arbetsta-garens arbetsprestation löper en risk att bli fälld för diskriminering på grund av funktionsned-sättning. De lege ferenda argumenterar jag därför för att övervikt borde införas som en egen skyddad grund i diskrimineringslagen.

En arbetsgivare kan således medvetet och helt i enighet med lagen välja att inte anställa en person som är överviktig. Skulle arbetsgivaren försvara sitt handlande med att denne inte an-ser övervikt vara tilltalande skulle arbetsgivaren gå fri. Skulle arbetsgivaren istället försvara sig med att denne inte tror att personen med fetma kan prestera på arbetet i den mån som krävs eller att arbetstagaren kommer att vara sjukskriven i vidare mån än andra arbetstagare kan arbetsgivaren träffas av diskrimineringsbestämmelserna om funktionsnedsättning. Detta får enligt min uppfattning märkliga och oönskade effekter. En arbetsgivare som nekat en per-son med annat etniskt ursprung arbetsintervju på grund av att utländskt utseende inte är tillta-lande hade aldrig kommit undan. Varför ska det motsatta gälla för överviktiga, trots att de enligt undersökningar missgynnas i vidare mån än arabmuslimska män?

Slutsatsen är således att den tidigare beskrivna händelsen i restaurangköket kan vara helt tillå-ten, även om jag ansåg det vara helt fel handlande av en arbetsgivare att neka en arbetssö-kande intervju på grunder som är allt annat än sakliga. (Less)
Abstract
My first interest in the subject of discrimination against individuals who are overweight and obese was raised when an employer at my work in a restaurant denied a person interview ex-clusively due to her weight. I personally considered this to be wrong. The purpose of this es-say is to investigate whether it is allowed to disadvantage a person entirely based on the per-son’s weight. I will use a classic jurisprudence method and apply both a de lege lata and a de lege ferenda perspective. Does the law provide protection for employees who are overweight or obese, and if so how does this protection work? Finally, my personal opinion about how the protection should be instituted is provided.

Investigations from the area of discrimination... (More)
My first interest in the subject of discrimination against individuals who are overweight and obese was raised when an employer at my work in a restaurant denied a person interview ex-clusively due to her weight. I personally considered this to be wrong. The purpose of this es-say is to investigate whether it is allowed to disadvantage a person entirely based on the per-son’s weight. I will use a classic jurisprudence method and apply both a de lege lata and a de lege ferenda perspective. Does the law provide protection for employees who are overweight or obese, and if so how does this protection work? Finally, my personal opinion about how the protection should be instituted is provided.

Investigations from the area of discrimination indicate that the prejudices against overweight and obese people compared to normal-weighted people are even more severe compared to the prejudices against Arab Muslim men. However, there is an explicit protection against ethnic protection, which is lacking when is comes to overweight and obesity.

My essay deals with Swedish law, including the Instrument of Government, the public Em-ployee Act and the Discrimination Act. International law, such as EU-law, the European Con-vention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, are also important sources of justice in the field of discrimination and, subsequently, for this essay.

My de lege lata conclusions are that, in cases where overweightness is only an aspect of bodi-ly appearance, there is no protection for private sector employees. For employees in the public sector, there are requirements for objective reasons regarding all employment decisions, which means that employers cannot refrain from hiring an employee solely because of their bodily appearance.

There is protection for obesity, but it is only actualized in cases where the obesity has led to a disability at the time of the disadvantage. It is not clear how far the principles of obesity as a disability extend. For example, as for cases where the employer makes an incorrect assump-tion that the weight means that the employee has less discipline at work or will become more often sick compared to other employees?

With regard to disability, there are important EU-legal principles, such as statistical discrimi-nation and how to deal with incorrect assumptions. However, it is not clear how far they ex-tend and how far they can be applied to obesity. A clear answer to the question can only be obtained if the European Court of Justice or the Swedish Labour Court makes a clear ruling.

My de lege ferenda conclusions are that it is wrong that an employer who disadvantages an employee solely because of this person’s bodily appearance can be sure that this way of act-ing is in accordance with the law. While the employer who, rightly or wrongly, believes that overweightness or obesity may affect the performance of the employee, is at risk of being accused of discrimination due to disability. Therefore, in my de lege ferenda argument I argue that obesity should be enacted as a separate protected ground in the Discrimination Act.

An employer can thus consciously and in accordance with the law choose not to hire a person who is overweight. If the employer defends his action based on that he does not consider the employee’s bodily appearance to be appealing, the employer would go unpunished. If the employer on the other hand defends himself based on that he does not believe that the obese person can perform the work tasks to the extent required or that he or she may be sick more often due to the obesity, the court may under some conditions find the employer guilty of dis-crimination on the ground of disability. In my opinion, this causes strange and undesirable effects. An employer, who denies a person of a different ethnic origin to be interviewed based on the employer’s belief that the ethnic appearance is not appealing, would not go unpun-ished. The opposite applies to bodily appearance. Despite the fact that it appears from the non-legal research that obese people are even more discriminated against, the rules for dis-crimination do not protect this vulnerable group.

The conclusion is therefore, that my experience from the restaurant may be entirely in accord-ance with the law and totally permissible, although I consider it completely wrong to deny a job seeking person an interview based on grounds that are anything but objective. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Sandberg, Emelie LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Overweight and obesity as a ground for discrimination in employment
course
JURM02 20172
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
arbetsrätt, EU-rätt, diskriminering, övervikt, fetma
language
Swedish
id
8930008
date added to LUP
2018-01-22 13:29:46
date last changed
2018-01-22 13:29:46
@misc{8930008,
  abstract     = {My first interest in the subject of discrimination against individuals who are overweight and obese was raised when an employer at my work in a restaurant denied a person interview ex-clusively due to her weight. I personally considered this to be wrong. The purpose of this es-say is to investigate whether it is allowed to disadvantage a person entirely based on the per-son’s weight. I will use a classic jurisprudence method and apply both a de lege lata and a de lege ferenda perspective. Does the law provide protection for employees who are overweight or obese, and if so how does this protection work? Finally, my personal opinion about how the protection should be instituted is provided. 

Investigations from the area of discrimination indicate that the prejudices against overweight and obese people compared to normal-weighted people are even more severe compared to the prejudices against Arab Muslim men. However, there is an explicit protection against ethnic protection, which is lacking when is comes to overweight and obesity. 

My essay deals with Swedish law, including the Instrument of Government, the public Em-ployee Act and the Discrimination Act. International law, such as EU-law, the European Con-vention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, are also important sources of justice in the field of discrimination and, subsequently, for this essay. 

My de lege lata conclusions are that, in cases where overweightness is only an aspect of bodi-ly appearance, there is no protection for private sector employees. For employees in the public sector, there are requirements for objective reasons regarding all employment decisions, which means that employers cannot refrain from hiring an employee solely because of their bodily appearance. 

There is protection for obesity, but it is only actualized in cases where the obesity has led to a disability at the time of the disadvantage. It is not clear how far the principles of obesity as a disability extend. For example, as for cases where the employer makes an incorrect assump-tion that the weight means that the employee has less discipline at work or will become more often sick compared to other employees? 

With regard to disability, there are important EU-legal principles, such as statistical discrimi-nation and how to deal with incorrect assumptions. However, it is not clear how far they ex-tend and how far they can be applied to obesity. A clear answer to the question can only be obtained if the European Court of Justice or the Swedish Labour Court makes a clear ruling.

My de lege ferenda conclusions are that it is wrong that an employer who disadvantages an employee solely because of this person’s bodily appearance can be sure that this way of act-ing is in accordance with the law. While the employer who, rightly or wrongly, believes that overweightness or obesity may affect the performance of the employee, is at risk of being accused of discrimination due to disability. Therefore, in my de lege ferenda argument I argue that obesity should be enacted as a separate protected ground in the Discrimination Act. 

An employer can thus consciously and in accordance with the law choose not to hire a person who is overweight. If the employer defends his action based on that he does not consider the employee’s bodily appearance to be appealing, the employer would go unpunished. If the employer on the other hand defends himself based on that he does not believe that the obese person can perform the work tasks to the extent required or that he or she may be sick more often due to the obesity, the court may under some conditions find the employer guilty of dis-crimination on the ground of disability. In my opinion, this causes strange and undesirable effects. An employer, who denies a person of a different ethnic origin to be interviewed based on the employer’s belief that the ethnic appearance is not appealing, would not go unpun-ished. The opposite applies to bodily appearance. Despite the fact that it appears from the non-legal research that obese people are even more discriminated against, the rules for dis-crimination do not protect this vulnerable group. 

The conclusion is therefore, that my experience from the restaurant may be entirely in accord-ance with the law and totally permissible, although I consider it completely wrong to deny a job seeking person an interview based on grounds that are anything but objective.},
  author       = {Sandberg, Emelie},
  keyword      = {arbetsrätt,EU-rätt,diskriminering,övervikt,fetma},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Fetma och övervikt som diskrimineringsgrund i arbetslivet},
  year         = {2017},
}