Publication Date

June 1994


A recent federal appeals court ruling barred employment bias against the obese. A reconsideration of claims of discrimination against overweight people is therefore in order. This paper examines the effect of being overweight on lawyers' salaries as reported in the 1984 National Lawyer Survey. Using regression models derived from the clinical nutrition literature as well as models based on the lawyers in the sample themselves, we find an effect of being overweight on salary for both men and women attorneys. The effect for women is captured only in models that incorporate more categories of overweight, however. There is also an effect of being short on men's, but not on women's, salaries. We suggest that the discrimination may be based on social perceptions of people deviating from an "ideal" physique. Since this discrimination exists in a group that should "know better" about judging a person by appearance, it is important to examine how widespread this discrimination in fact is.


Suggested Citation
Saporta, I. & Halpern, J. J. (1994). Obesity and discrimination among U.S. lawyers (CAHRS Working Paper #94-10). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.