Q. May we impose height and weight requirements on job applicants?
A. Generally, employers should not ask about the height or weight of an applicant. Though height and weight are not protected categories under California law, such questions can expose employers to lawsuits.
That is because height and weight requirements can—unintentionally or intentionally—discriminate on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity. Since these requirements can “disproportionately limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups,” the EEOC and the California Office of the Attorney General state that employers should avoid these inquiries unless they are “job-related” and “clearly necessary for safe and efficient job performance.”
Furthermore, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lists “questions as to applicant’s height/weight” as unacceptable employment inquiries.
Additionally, employers may want to keep in mind that some local ordinances—such as those in San Francisco and Santa Cruz—explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of weight and height.
Also consider the possible impact of weight limits in regard to obesity as a disability under the ADA.