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

03/05/2009
Silhouettes representing healthy, overweight, ...
Image via Wikipedia

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. (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/2958.cfm?sd=247)

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: http://www.diversityinc.com/public/2958.cfm?sd=247

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements

Why Deloitte & Touche made Diversity Inc’s Top 50 list.

03/04/2009
Deloitte Office Building in Downtown Chicago
Image via Wikipedia

Deloitte and Touche has a CEO in Barry Salzberg that values and models diversity internally and externally (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He chairs and manages an internal diversity council (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He is connected with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and other diversity oriented nonprofits (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He supports diversity in his executives by tying compensation to the promotion of diversity (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He is quoted here:

“Building and sustaining an inclusive culture has been critical to Deloitte’s growth and will play an important role in our continued success. Clients expect it, new recruits want it and our people demand it. Most importantly, our culture of inclusion has a direct impact on the organization’s ability to set the standard of excellence in the marketplace.” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

They hire a diverse worker body, and support diverse employee resource groups, such as LGBT groups and employees with disabilities (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). “Thirty-two percent of its work force and 41 percent of its new hires were Black, Asian, Latino or Native American” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

This company respects its employees. They promote a work/life balance, have strong metrics to support productivity and goals, and provides support (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm).

They have a mentoring program in which 75% of managers participate (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm).

They also have a Chief Diversity Officer, Allen Thomas, who is quoted here:

Diversity and inclusion is tightly woven into Deloitte’s fabric. We’ve accomplished this by setting a clear and decisive tone at the top and demonstrating leadership’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive culture that provides opportunities for all of our professionals to succeed. In addition, our active support of Deloitte’s Business Resource Groups and their members across the country is a daily display of our commitment to the diversity of our people. (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

DiversityInc devises it’s top 50 most diverse companies “by metrics obtained in a detailed survey of more than 200 questions” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

Any company with over 1,000 U.S. employees can request and recieve the free survey (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

Some more details on the methodology of choosing the top 50:

four areas the survey measures: CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate and Organizational Communications, and Supplier Diversity. Companies are assessed within the context of their industries, geography and employee skill sets. Any company that does not offer domestic-partner health benefits is automatically excluded from the Top 50 and the 11 specialty lists (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

I think that Deloitte and Touche is regarded as a top company in terms of diversity because the structure of the leadership (e.g. a Chief Diversity Officer) as well as a CEO who supports and models diversity encourage that behavior. If the leadership provides the path, the carrot, and the stick, intrinsic valence of the idea in employees is probably not far behind, especially if it helps people, helps the company, and helps the world.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Broadcast Networks Battling Uphill for Profit and Audience – NYTimes.com

02/28/2009
Image representing New York Times as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

This is posted to illustrate the tension in digital media convergence between the current, the past and the future media. When the old model begins to collapse, how do the longstanding media react? If they don’t alter their methods and change to meet new needs, they falter, crumble, and disappear.

Ratings over all for broadcast networks continue to decline, making it harder for them to justify their high prices for advertising. Cable channels are spending more on original shows, which bring in new viewers and dampen their appetites for buying repeats of broadcast shows.

For the networks, the crisis is twofold: cultural and financial. For viewers, the result is more low-cost reality shows, prime-time talk and news programs and sports from the institutions that once made “Hill Street Blues,” “All in the Family” and “Cheers.”

via Broadcast Networks Battling Uphill for Profit and Audience – NYTimes.com.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pew Internet: Twitter and status updating

02/26/2009
prevail-whale
Image by lemasney via Flickr

Collecting great articles for my COMM 563 paper on Twitter‘s effects on Collective Intelligence.

As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others.

Twitter and similar services have been most avidly embraced by young adults. Nearly one in five (19%) online adults ages 18 and 24 have ever used Twitter and its ilk, as have 20% of online adults 25 to 34. Use of these services drops off steadily after age 35 with 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twitter. The decline is even more stark among older internet users; 4% of 55-64 year olds and 2% of those 65 and older use Twitter.

via Pew Internet: Twitter and status updating.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Mozilla demos impressive Firefox 3.1 features at SCALE – Ars Technica

02/24/2009
Rider tech training poster 2009
Image by lemasney via Flickr

In our models of Digital Media Convergence, the technological layer is an essential one. When basic everyday technology tools like Firefox allow for greater and easier publishing and sharing of rich media, they power the bottom-up media, the participative culture, and the empowerment of rich media publishing. I’ll say it again: I am NBC.

The HTML 5 video element will also arrive in Firefox 3.1. This will allow video content to be embedded directly in Web pages, controlled with JavaScript, and manipulated through the DOM. It’s a major step forward for rich media content on the Web. Firefox 3.1 will ship with built-in support for the Ogg Vorbis and Theora formats—open audio and video codecs that are believed to be unencumbered by patents. The actual codec implementations are integrated directly into the browser itself, so content in those formats will be playable without requiring any external components or plugins.

via Mozilla demos impressive Firefox 3.1 features at SCALE – Ars Technica.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Case One Response (COMM 564 Ebo)

02/23/2009
Silhouettes representing healthy, overweight, ...
Image via Wikipedia

CASE STUDY NUMBER ONE

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.

Of course, immediately, I need to know some more clarifying information.

How do I know that I am being fired for what I’ll call obesity? What in my job requires that I must be of ‘normal’ weight? What is normal weight? Are we using a formula? Am I a dancer? Am I a model? Am I an athlete who needs to be in top physical shape to stay focused? Am I a trash person, who must be able to hang on to the back of a truck without fear of a quick turn? Is it part of a contract? Has anything actually been said to indicate that obesity was in fact the reason? The company is held, generally speaking, to a standard that prevents discrimination according to weight, which in this case might be coded as a disability.
I don’t think the case would stand very long in court or even be considered unless there is some factor which is not revealed in the case study, such as one of the scenarios I mentioned above, e.g. dancing, modeling, or some other work activity that requires the worker’s body to be of a certain fitness in order to do the work well. In this case, special care would have to be taken in the work agreement to measure what an ideal body was proportionally, in weight, and in tone, so that an objective analysis of the worker’s body could be shown to be outside of the margins of allowance. Otherwise, the scenario is akin to prejudice, in that bodily fitness has no impact of knowledge work, but may indeed be seen as having an impact on kinetic work.

I’d also add that I do not see it as very fair nor reasonable, even given a contract, that there not be an opportunity to make things right in the eyes of the contract. How many pounds out of the allowance are we? 20 pounds? 10? 10 pounds could be reasonably lost with a fitness and caloric regimen in 5 to 10 weeks. Can the work be held for that long? Is there some other task that the obese employee could do in the meantime?

John LeMasney

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Does Social Media Make Us Better People?

02/22/2009
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

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?.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]