OBESE job applicants are not being given a fair crack of the whip due to their weight, new research has suggested.
A Croydon-based law firm has polled HR and recruitment professionals across the country, with over half admitting they find obesity to be an undesirable trait.
The professionals said that being overweight implied that person would not be as productive as slimmer colleagues and have a negative impact on the workplace (46 per cent).
Fifty-six per cent of those polled said they thought obesity was a 'valuable marker' when determining candidate character and predicted performance.
When faced with the option of two candidates with identical qualities, the only difference being that one is obese, 51 per cent said they'd prefer to hire the 'normal' candidate.
The firm behind the research, Croydon high street-based ThomasMansfield, say this amounts to unfair discrimination.
Senior Partner at Thomas Mansfield, Neill Thomas, said: "The findings of the study reveal the problem of bias faced by obese people during the recruitment and selection process which potentially means that the most suitably qualified candidate does not get chosen.
"This highlights that people continue to hold stereotypical assumptions that obese people are responsible for their own weight and any problems they suffer are self-inflicted – whereas it might be the case that there is an underlying medical condition."
There are no explicit laws protecting against obesity prejudice.
This polling was carried out in light of the ongoing Danish case of Karsten Kaltoft v Billund Kommune, where Kaltoft, an obese child-minder, who was sacked for being unable to bend down to tie up children's shoelaces, is claiming obesity should be considered a disability.
Mr Thomas added: "I envisage that the judiciary would not want to enshrine in law any protection for people who are obese without any underlying medical condition as this could open the floodgates to other groups who consider they need special treatment such as short, tall, thin or people with ginger hair.
"Another problem to consider would be the side effects of any legislation protecting obese people. Smaller businesses could be the worst affected in having to pay the cost of adapting the workplace to accommodate obese people such as special car parking spaces, lifts, more rest breaks, wider chairs, adapted keyboards, choice of meals in the canteen etc.
"In order for obesity to become a protected characteristic in the same way as other disabilities it would need to be defined in law. Potentially, this is a difficult task and arguably not a task for the law makers but the medical profession."