‘All About that Bass’? Is Non‐Ideal‐Weight Discrimination Unlawful in the UK?

35 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016

See all articles by Tamara K. Hervey

Tamara K. Hervey

University of Sheffield - Faculty of Law

Philip Rostant


Date Written: March 2016


People of non‐ideal‐weight (overweight or severely underweight) are subjected to discrimination, in the workplace and elsewhere, based on attitudinal assumptions and negative inferences from their membership of a group, such as that they are insufficiently self‐motivated to make good employees. But is that discrimination unlawful in the UK? The Equality Act 2010 offers only a very tenuous route for protection, because the Act is based largely on a ‘medical model’ of disability. EU law, which embraces a ‘social model’ of disability, drawing from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, offers more, at least in theory. But the mechanisms for enforcing individual EU law rights mean that entitlements in EU law are likely to be enforceable in practice only against state employers. This situation leaves a gap in the law which is remediable only by legislative reform.

Suggested Citation

Hervey, Tamara K. and Rostant, Philip, ‘All About that Bass’? Is Non‐Ideal‐Weight Discrimination Unlawful in the UK? (March 2016). The Modern Law Review, Vol. 79, Issue 2, pp. 248-282, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2740785 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12179

Tamara K. Hervey (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - Faculty of Law ( email )

Crookesmoor Building, Conduit Road
Sheffield S10 1FL
United Kingdom

Philip Rostant

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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