Case Study: Can You Get Fired Because You Are Fat?

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Picture this scenario: You’re just returning from your lunch break when your boss walks up to you and tells you to pack your belongings. You’re fired. You stammer for an explanation. Did you mishandle an important project? Were you accused of embezzling company funds?

No. It’s because you’re fat. (

Because weight and obesity is not a protected characteristic under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, a person who was fired as a result of being overweight would not likely have a defendable discrimination case.

Only in cases where you were extremely or morbidly obese would you have the opportunity to defend yourself under the protection regarding discrimination against disability, by filing a claim under the Americans with disabilities act.  Even then it would be a very difficult case to win.

There is the idea that obesity, dress, and other physical characteristics are a remaining opportunity for discrimination and prejudice, and this is exemplified by the notion that workers can share fat jokes without a raised eyebrow, but certainly not jokes about blacks or women or older people, because it would quickly bring cases of discrimination. Because people are generally believed to make choices about their physical appearance, but are born with other characteristics (age, race, etc), physical appearance seems to elude the common rules of prejudice.

Employers who look at the data may discriminate against the obese because according to some studies, obese people are more likely to submit worker’s compensation claims, and so to protect the bottom line, employers may take this currently legal action of firing or refusing to hire the obese.

Most of my ideas and support came from the source of the case:

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Does Social Media Make Us Better People?

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Here’s something very close to my argument, but more about interpersonal communication effects. Perhaps I should broaden (or tighten) my thesis.

Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Rather, I’m talking about the cameraphone user who automatically uploads her photos to Flickr or Twitpic, who with the tap of a screen can post a video to YouTube or stream a scene live on Qik. I’m talking about the immediacy and accessibility of Twitter messages that make private conversations public; tools that open up the very real possibility that every action you take, whether in a public space or in seemingly private emails and text messages, is being logged and possibly shared with thousands of people.How does this change the way we act? Might it actually make us…nicer to one another?

via Does Social Media Make Us Better People?.

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Life is tweet: How the Twitter family infiltrated our cultural world | Technology | The Observer

Prevail Whale by lemasney via Flickr

In class tonight, we talked a little bit(ter) about twitter. For those of you interested in why Twitter is taking off, here’s some backstory. Oh, and if you want to follow me,

For those unacquainted (or “twirgins”), Twitter is a social networking service that combines elements of blogging and texting by allowing its users to send updates to their friends (or “followers”) via the web or mobile phone in messages (or “tweets”) of up to 140 characters each. Unlike Facebook, anyone on Twitter can follow your updates. The service, created in 2006 by San Francisco-based whizz kids Jack Dorsey, 31, and Biz Stone, 34, now relays up to 3 million tweets a day and is one of the fastest growing websites in the UK.

via Life is tweet: How the Twitter family infiltrated our cultural world | Technology | The Observer.

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How to Use the New FriendFeed Search for Social Media Intelligence – ReadWriteWeb


This is a great example of the power of collective intelligence. When you strap a search engine on top of a tool like friendfeed you get to sift through all of the items of a whole bunch of networks using filters of all sorts. What a great tool!

FriendFeed, a cross-network activity aggregator built by ex-Googlers and more fun to use than the phrase “cross-network activity aggregator” might imply, launched a powerful new search tool today. Want to discover particularly interesting conversations or people in your networks? Want to pick out just the noisiest conversations online about your brand? Want to find some really crazy stuff that’s only discoverable through FriendFeed? The investigative possibilities that FriendFeed now offers are quite impressive, if you can bring just a little creativity to your search query construction.

via How to Use the New FriendFeed Search for Social Media Intelligence – ReadWriteWeb.

Mediation Introduction Script revision


Welcome to our mediation session, and thank you for participating. Please let me introduce myself: I’m John LeMasney, a trained mediator with Mediation Solutions, and I’ve been asked here to facilitate your mediation session. Could you please, each in turn, say your name, your role in this dispute (in a few words), and then please say the phrase “I’m here to make this better.” Please respect others’ right to speak. I’ll start. I’m John, I’m the co-mediator for this session, and I’m here to make this better.

[participants introduce themselves]

Very good! The fact that you’re all here is a great first step towards making this better. Congratulations on your bravery, commitment, and your willingness to participate in this unique process.

Mediation is simply a facilitated discussion of your differences. It gives us an opportunity to improve the existing situation while staying out of court and other more formal structures. We believe that you can solve this yourselves, and obviously you do too, by your presence. In this room, we are neither judges nor arbiters. While we’re here we are also not consultants, advisors, or lawyers. We are here simply to provide a structure for your conversation. We will work to give you the best chance at understanding each other, listening to each other, and finding out the full reasons why you’re at odds. You can resolve this issue, using your own words, on your own terms, collaboratively, as a team.

Regarding what’s permissible here: Common courtesy and mutual respect are mandated in order for this to work. Only one person speaks at a time, preferably after they are addressed, without interruption; verbal, nonverbal, or physical interjections should be reserved until it is your turn to speak. Feel free to use these notepads in order to take notes to remind yourself of points you wish to address.

Now, please take a look at this confidentiality agreement, sign it, and return it. This is a way for us in this room to begin to feel safe about speaking freely. What occurs here should stay here, and you should know that all notes and other recordings, aside from our agreement itself, will be destroyed at the end of our mediation. The agreement will hold all that we wish to retain of our work here. We hope that you will be able to simply let go of any negative feelings about each other over time, and any record of our talks tonight might prolong that process.

If for any reason either you or we feel that a separate meeting is necessary for any reason, such as the need to address or unearth a confidential issue in depth, each of us can request such a meeting.

Now, let’s review and sign the agreement to mediate, and thanks again for your participation. We believe that your effort will be rewarded.

Does anyone have any questions before we begin?

Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition (2nd ed., p. 198). Waveland Press.