ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Can You Sue if You're a Victim of Weight Discrimination?

Updated on March 11, 2017
Dancing on Bars: Not for the Overweight?
Dancing on Bars: Not for the Overweight?

In the news recently is the story of twenty-one year old Jordan Ramos of Iowa City, Iowa, who alleges that she was discriminated against at a local bar. She claims that a bouncer at Union Bar, also in Iowa City, refused to let her onto a dancing platform with her friends because she is overweight. She alleges that the bouncer told her she wasn't pretty enough to dance on the platform with her friends, and that he claimed she was obviously pregnant, which she denied.

There are pictures of her available online, and I will not post them here because I do not have permission to do so. But, in my opinion, though she describes herself as plus sized, she probably would fit into the obese category. (I'm not being judgmental, just observant. I fall into that category myself.)

Ramos was told by the social work staff at the University of Iowa to return to the bar and see if the exact same thing would happen again. She did, and it did. Ramos then went to the Human Rights Commission in Iowa City in order to file a complaint. She was told that weight discrimination is not illegal.

Though any lawsuit she might file might sound as ridiculous as suing because of burns from a cup of coffee from a fast food restaurant, it does say something about society as a whole. Do people have a right to discriminate against someone because of their weight?

This guy will probably not be asked to dance on tables any time soon.
This guy will probably not be asked to dance on tables any time soon. | Source

What is Discrimination and Why is Some of it Illegal?

It seems as if most lawsuits these days are frivolous, bordering on ridiculous, but discrimination is a very real and dangerous thing for any individual's civil rights. defines discrimination as "Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit."

There are several important federal laws in the United States regarding discrimination.

The United States' Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation and is broken into chapters, or Titles.

  • Title I gave voters equality, although it did not ban literacy tests, which were originally designed to keep blacks from voting. This was practice was banned in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Title II eliminated discrimination in public places according to race, religion and color. Private clubs were excepted, and women were not included in the wording.
  • Title III prohibited any state or local government from denying access to anyone because of their race, color, religion or national origin.
  • Title IV advocated the desegregation of public schools.
  • Title V gave the Civil Rights Commission greater authority.
  • Title VI prevents discrimination in any government agencies that are funded by the federal government
  • Title VII specifically addresses discrimination in the workplace. It prohibits the discrimination of people based on their race, gender, age, color or national origin.
  • Title VIII required the collection of voter registration data in areas according to the Civil Rights Commission.
  • Title IX allowed the moving of civil rights cases from state courts to federal.
  • Title X created the Community Relations Service to handle discrimination claims.
  • Title XI established fines and jail term limits for anyone having been convicted of discrimination crimes.
  • The Bennett Amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 affected the wording of Title VII, allowing for the differences of job titles and duties and their relation to wages.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 disallows housing discrimination in relation to race, creed or national origin. Gender was added to the language in 1974 and people with disabilities as well as families with children in 1988.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 made it illegal for anyone to hire, fire, discipline or fail to promote anyone because of their age.

There is currently no federal legislation in the United States barring discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.

All other legislation is left up to the states to decide.

She may be offended or even outraged, but does she have any legal grounds for a law suit?
She may be offended or even outraged, but does she have any legal grounds for a law suit? | Source

So... Does She Have a Case, or Doesn't She?

In the state where the incident occurred, Iowa, the following people are the only ones protected from discrimination by state law: "The Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education. Discrimination, or different treatment, is illegal if based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, physical disability, mental disability, retaliation (because of filing a previous discrimination complaint, participating in an investigation of a discrimination complaint, or having opposed discriminatory conduct), age (in employment and credit), familial status (in housing and credit) or marital status (in credit)."

Some may argue that her weight could be classified as a physical disability, but those findings are made by special boards that qualify people as disabled for the purpose of Social Security Disability.

Even if Ramos were to be certified as disabled, the bar ultimately has the right to 'refuse service to anyone.' It could also be argued that there may be a weight limit on the platform that Ms. Ramos was attempting to dance on, and allowing her onto that platform could have the potential for injury for Ms. Ramos and anyone else on it. Amusement park rides, elevators and many other places do have weight restrictions for safety, though it could also be argued that the bar should post their restrictions publicly if this is the reason given for disallowing heavier people from dancing in or on specific areas.

As it is, in the state of Iowa, Ms. Ramos has no legal grounds to file a complaint or a suit. Her only recourse is to do exactly what she is doing, gaining media attention and refusing to return to Union Bar.

Though discrimination is vile and unfair, it is not always illegal.

Do you think that Jordan Ramos should be able to file a lawsuit?

See results

What Can You Do If You Think You Are the Victim of Discrimination

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, there are a few things you can do.

Firstly, if the basis for discrimination falls under any of the provisions of any United States federal law, you may file an online complaint with the corresponding government agency.

The US Department of Education's Office For Civil Rights can be contacted here.

Information on filing a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is located here

If you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of your disability, contact the US Department of Health and Human Services.

If the nature of the discrimination you have experienced falls under any other category, you should contact the Human Rights agency in your city or state. Also, most Legal Aid services will let you know if the discrimination you faced has any legal grounds for official complaints or lawsuits.

Overweight and/or Ugly Girls Need Not Apply

© 2012 Georgie Lowery


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)