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Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight Based Discrimination [Paperback]

Sondra Solovay
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2000
What rights, if any, do fat people have? If a child is obese, are the parents legally responsible? Can employers treat overweight employees as different, or disabled? Should fat people be protected by disability laws? Cases of illegal hiring practices, workplace prejudice, harassment, unfair treatment, medical malpractice, and denial of public access are being filed in increasing numbers as the nation continues to obsess over, and misunderstand, weight.
Two events in 1998-the controversial felony prosecution of a mother whose child died of obesity-related complications, and the National Institutes of Health declaration of a national weight standard-forced the weight debate to a new level of public awareness.
Very little literature on the law and weight exists, so each new case is a potential precedent-setter. Tipping the Scales of Justice presents actual cases and the stories behind the legal arguments, showing for the first time the varied and surprising ways that fat has become a courtroom topic.
An attorney who focuses on weight-related cases, Sondra Solovay details court attitudes toward weight in relation to employment and discrimination law, child/family law, disability law, civil rights, minorities, public policy, diets and exercise, and much more, while intermingling a personal narrative on major cases and their outcomes. This fascinating book will be essential for law courses and libraries, as well as a one-of-a-kind perspective for anyone concerned about weight as a legal issue.

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Review

"...an outstanding book...a valuable tool for anyone who fights for human rights..." -- Off Our Backs, December 2000

"...outstanding! It's a must-read for those who want a comprehensive understanding of civil rights!" -- Michael Adams, Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union

"I believe this book will be a valuable tool for anyone who fights for human rights." -- Rump Parliament Magazine, May/June 2000

"The first book of its kind...a must-read for any woman who has ever been discriminated against because of her size." -- BBW Magazine, July 2000

"When flight attendants can be fired for gaining 5 or 10 pounds, we're all at risk from weight-related discrimination." -- Marilyn Wann, editor, Fat!So? magazine

About the Author

Sondra Solovay (Berkeley, CA), a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, is an attorney and noted activist. Her media experience includes Court TV, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, Associated Press, and much more.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Another left-wing political rant from Berkeley June 28 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Sondra Solovay is a lawyer, author, lesbian, feminist, Berkeley-resident and obese person. Tipping the Scales of Justice is Sondra's activist war-cry describing how disenfranchised obese individuals are in American society. Sondra's personal politics come out in this book as she complains that "fat" people deserve to be accommodated for in every way imaginable. Sondra loves statistics and this book is full of them. Sondra shows that thin women make more money than fat women. Thin women are selected for jury duty more often than fat women, (so what? does anybody actually like jury duty?) She even goes so far as to label obesity descriminiation as the civil-rights issue of the century. This book attempts to deal with sensitive issues of teasing and hurt feelings but comes off as a long political rant about how everyone should cater to her because she's overweight. There are better books about the subject, such as those written for the clinical psychology field regarding female body image.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, but Thin on Authority Nov. 10 2000
Format:Paperback
In perhaps the first and only authoritative book on fat prejudice, attorney Sondra Solovay paints a disturbing picture of widespread mistreatment of the obese and urges extension of current law to remedy these problems. Proclaiming "fat discrimination" as the civil rights issue of the millennium, she calls for increased legal protection, detailing a litany of abuse afflicted on fat people by peers, teachers, employers, and even judges. She disputes the prevailing notion that fat people's size is their own fault, saying scientific evidence shows that obesity is not within the individual's control. Because body size may be immutable and not reflective of a person's abilities, she argues that anti-discrimination law should apply. She touts progress against fat discrimination, including laws passed in Michigan and California that specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of weight in employment and housing.
The author recommends applying disability laws to the obese, a controversial stance which puts her at odds with other so-called fat-rights advocates who resist using the disabled label. After examining several cases involving the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, she concludes that the courts' treatment of larger-sized people under these laws too often is inconsistent, confused, and tainted by fat prejudice. She proposes a clearer, more logical way of categorizing and analyzing these cases, and reiterates how de-stigmatizing obesity helps correct pervasive misperceptions of fat people's abilities.
The book's strength lies in its focus on education and reform and the human face put on the problem of fat prejudice.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular ! Revolutionary! Excellent! Feb. 22 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Tipping The Scales of Justice is a very well written examination of the legal and personal issues surrounding weight based discrimination. Ms. Solovay touches on all the relevant issues with clarity and insight, born out of a devotion to Justice and the desire to make this issue understood to all who read about it. She is a passionate activist and a marvelous writer. Without a doubt this book will stand the test of time as a solidly researched, superbly written book. Congratulations, Ms. Solovay!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular ! Revolutionary! Excellent! Feb. 21 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Tipping The Scales of Justice is a very well written examination of the legal and personal issues surrounding weight based discrimination. Ms. Solovay touches on all the relevant issues with clarity and insight, born out of a devotion to Justice and the desire to make this issue understood to all who read about it. She is a passionate activist and a marvelous writer. Without a doubt this book will stand the test of time as a solidly researched, superbly written book. Congratulations, Ms. Solovay!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simultaneously heartbreaking, infuriating, & hope-provoking June 20 2005
By Susan Koppelman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The quiet, measured, dignified prose style of the author, a sort of removed reportage, makes the horrors of discrimination in education, health-care, social life, employment, the world of entertainment, and so forth all the more starkly ugly, cruel, dangerous, and damaging. The damage, however, is not confined to those fat people who are so viciously discriminated against. It extends to almost everyone who is infected with fear and hatred of fat, everyone who would rather be blind or deaf or lose a limb than be fat, everyone who succombs to the blandishments of a greedy, fear-mongering, prejudice-supporing bariatric industry. In other words, we're all in this together and we've all got to get out of it together. And the legal considerations Solovay brings to our attention, the suggestions she makes about extending legal coverages against discrimination already in place, and the compassion she displays for victims make this book one of the important beginnings for recovery from anti-fat hysteria. Thank you for this book.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, but Thin on Authority Nov. 10 2000
By Lucy Terry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In perhaps the first and only authoritative book on fat prejudice, attorney Sondra Solovay paints a disturbing picture of widespread mistreatment of the obese and urges extension of current law to remedy these problems. Proclaiming "fat discrimination" as the civil rights issue of the millennium, she calls for increased legal protection, detailing a litany of abuse afflicted on fat people by peers, teachers, employers, and even judges. She disputes the prevailing notion that fat people's size is their own fault, saying scientific evidence shows that obesity is not within the individual's control. Because body size may be immutable and not reflective of a person's abilities, she argues that anti-discrimination law should apply. She touts progress against fat discrimination, including laws passed in Michigan and California that specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of weight in employment and housing.
The author recommends applying disability laws to the obese, a controversial stance which puts her at odds with other so-called fat-rights advocates who resist using the disabled label. After examining several cases involving the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, she concludes that the courts' treatment of larger-sized people under these laws too often is inconsistent, confused, and tainted by fat prejudice. She proposes a clearer, more logical way of categorizing and analyzing these cases, and reiterates how de-stigmatizing obesity helps correct pervasive misperceptions of fat people's abilities.
The book's strength lies in its focus on education and reform and the human face put on the problem of fat prejudice. However, even the author's extensive use of footnotes can't compensate for the dearth of legal materials involving weight discrimination. The appendices list organizations devoted to fat-rights advocacy, recommended readings, samples of anti-discrimination laws and excerpts from the ADA. But the paucity of published opinions reflects the reason why the book is a "tool of legal scholarship" as opposed to a "handbook" -- the still novel issue remains largely confined to academia and talks shows, not the actual practice of law. In our progressively heavier society, fat people may be closer to tipping the scales as the majority, but one wonders whether protection against fat prejudice will ever become the prevailing legal norm.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Oct. 12 2011
By Nate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book if you are researching (or just interested in) issues of size acceptance advocacy or gender justice issues.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scales Tipped July 31 2006
By Sabrina J. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is very helpful and has been cited by numerous authors.Great book!
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