Can your employment contract include a clause about your weight?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Employment Contracts |

Starting a new job often involves understanding and signing an employment contract. You should thoroughly review the terms and conditions laid out in this contract. Some employers might include clauses that seem intrusive or discriminatory, such as clauses about your weight.

If you find such a clause in your contract, you might wonder about its legality.

Employment contract clauses

Employment contracts outline your responsibilities and the employer’s expectations. They typically cover issues like job duties, pay rate, hours of work and benefits. However, employers cannot include clauses that discriminate against you.

Anti-discrimination laws

According to Indiana’s anti-discrimination laws, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, religion, sex, disability and other protected attributes. While these laws do not specifically mention weight, employers need to be careful not to discriminate based on an individual’s physical appearance or body size.

A clause about your weight might violate these laws if it results in unequal treatment or has a negative impact on your employment. For example, if the clause requires you to maintain a certain weight that is not a necessary job requirement, it might be discriminatory.

Job-related requirements and exceptions

However, in some circumstances, weight could be a bona fide occupational requirement. For instance, if you are applying for a job that requires physical fitness or a certain body size for safety reasons, like a firefighter or professional athlete, an employer might legally include a weight clause in your contract.

The employer would need to show that the requirement is necessary to perform the job effectively and safely.

Employee rights

If you believe an employer is discriminating against you based on your weight, you have rights. Indiana’s Civil Rights Commission can provide guidance and handle complaints about employment discrimination.

While a clause about your weight in an Indiana employment contract may raise eyebrows, its legality depends on whether it results in discrimination or is a genuine job requirement. Always thoroughly read your employment contract and know your rights when starting a new job.


FindLaw Network