Discrimination against the obese by airlines
The Unites States does not allow discrimination against people for race, sex, handicap, or even sexual orientation; then why is the US government allowing the airlines to discriminate against the obese? 34% of Americans are now considered obese, making them the largest group of people discriminated against. Obese people are unfairly stereotyped as being lazy and therefore find it more difficult to get jobs, and when they do find employment, obese people tend to make less money and are very often denied promotions in which they are the most qualified and most deserving. Obese people are charged more for clothing. Even sizes such as 2XL often come with an increased price tag. The manufacturers claim that it is because of extra material. If this were the case, then why doesn’t the small cost a lot less than a large or XL. There is way more difference in the amount of material between a small and XL than there is between an XL and XXL. Retail stores such as Wal-Mart limit the sizes they sell, instead forcing an obese person to go to a specialty store to purchase similar items and 3 to 4 times the price. This isn’t about extra costs of the manufacturer; it is systematic discrimination against obese people. Most airlines now try to charge obese people for a second seat. This is the discrimination that I am going to discuss.
United Airlines has been added to a list along with Southwest and several other airlines that now have a formal policy against the obese customers. They require obese people to now purchase 2 seats for 1 person. Trying to force an obese person to use 2 seats is a safety issue because the seatbelts are not designed to fit across 2 seats, not to mention the comfort issue of armrests that don’t full retract. HarvardUniversity did a study and concluded the minimum acceptable seat size is 18inches, however since 1854; Boeing has only made their seats 17inches wide. These airlines allow their flight staff to openly discriminate against the obese. They are allowed to force an obese person to move to a different location, purchase additional seats, or even leave the plane and miss their flight, all in plain view of all of the other passengers. The airlines allow the staff to decide what level of discrimination they choose to impose as well as what level of embarrassment and public humiliation that they wish to inflict.
The more that we find out about obesity, the more we are realizing that obesity is heavily contributed by genetics and by the actions of our parents when we were young, things completely out of ones control. In Canada, the Supreme Court has ruled that obesity is a handicap and therefore charging extra to someone who is functionally disabled by obesity is illegal. There have been many court cases against American based airlines for their discrimination and public humiliation of obese people, but the American courts are throwing most of these cases out and refusing to hear them. Why is our court system not willing to deal with all discrimination? People with far less proof win cases on a daily basis because of race, sex, other handicaps, and sexual orientation. Building owners, airlines, etc. are required by law to make special accommodations for wheelchair users, such as wheelchair ramps and elevators. The airlines should be required to maintain a certain number of slightly larger seats (most obese people only require the extra couple inches that should already built into the seats, not 2 seats) to accommodate obese passengers. Failure to do so is clearly discrimination and it is time that the courts in the United States stand up and put a stop to this discrimination.
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