It has recently been reported that the technical director of the British Cycling team told one of its female members to lose weight. The case raises an interesting issue about whether remarks made about an employee's weight are discriminatory. 

The first thing to consider is whether the same comment would have made to a man. This is because if the person is critical of the size of both males and females, it would be difficult to then try and argue that this was a form of sex discrimination (because both genders are being treated the same). 

Assuming that such comments would only be made to a women, the next issue is to consider what type of discrimination it is. In all likelihood it will be harassment. This is defined as being where A engages in unwanted conduct related to a person's sex that has the purpose or effect of violating B's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B. So, telling your employee or work colleague that they need to lose weight is probably going to fall within this definition given that such a comment is likely to create a humiliating environment and/or violate their dignity. 

So, next time you are at work and tempted to make an observation about the size of a colleague's waistline, think twice and avoid potential employment law claims.