Overweight woman says size lost her Jenny Craig job
An overweight woman says she was denied a job at a Jenny Craig diet centre because of her size, and has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
White Rock resident Lora Bertuccio, 40, says she has struggled with her weight since childhood, and would love to lose 100 lbs.
Nevertheless, she applied for a job as a sales and counselling consultant at a Langley Jenny Craig in October, believing that her experience working as a professional make-up artist would make her the perfect candidate for the job.
"I thought, ‘Wow, that would be a fantastic opportunity for me,'" Bertuccio told CTV News.
She said that she hoped to start on the Jenny Craig diet plan, and that her enthusiasm as she shed the weight would be "contagious" for her clients.
During a phone interview with the company, Bertuccio said she asked if her size would be a problem.
"My one question was: ‘Would you consider me if I have my own weight issues and I wanted to take the Jenny Craig journey alongside of working for Jenny Craig?' They said, ‘Absolutely, nobody is perfect.'"
But the mood changed when she arrived for an in-person interview.
Bertuccio says that when she revealed past injuries suffered during weight-loss attempts, the interviewer doubted her ability to lose weight successfully with Jenny Craig.
She didn't get the job, and believes that her weight was the deciding factor.
"The first thing that went through my head was just extreme pain and hurt -- just embarrassment," Bertuccio said.
Her confidence was shaken, and she decided to file a human rights complaint.
"I thought that if anybody was going to be supportive of me, they [Jenny Craig] would," she said. "If they're not going to support you, who will?"
Susan O'Donnell, a lawyer with the B.C. Human Rights Coalition, says that people in both Canada and the U.S. have been successful in complaints that they were discriminated against because of their weight.
Last month, a B.C. man was awarded $2,000 in damages by the Human Rights Tribunal after he said he lost out on work as a construction flagger because he was too fat.
"It would be in violation of the Human Rights Code based on disability, unless the employer could show that it's a necessary requirement of the work to be done not to be overweight. That's a difficult thing to prove, because it usually isn't true," O'Donnell said.
She added that it would be unacceptable for a weight-loss company to argue that thin employees are better representatives for their services.
"In my view, that's a preference issue," she said. "Would it be okay to ask to ask a woman to wear a bunny suit because that's the employer's preference in a nightclub?"
The Langley Jenny Craig location directed questions about the complaint to an office in Carlsbad, California, which has not responded to requests for comment.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy