April 8, 2011 -- People at the Grassroots Natural Market in Denville, N.J., are shopping for groceries when they hear this:
"I'm going to be honest; I don't think this is the right fit for you. I just don't want you to waste your time filling out an application."
This is what Jeremy, a store manager, tells Melia, a woman who would like to apply for a sales clerk position at the store. The conversation starts out cordially enough but soon it's obvious that Melia is not going to be considered for the job because she is overweight.
What customers at the store don't know is that both Jeremy and Melia are actors hired by "What Would You Do?" We wanted to see how people would react when they witnessed a situation in which a job applicant was discriminated against because of her weight.
When Jeremy tells her not to apply, Melia acts incredulous.
"Wait you're telling me not to fill out this job application because of the way I look?" she asks.
"It's a health food store. I don't mean to be rude I'm just being honest," Jeremy replies.
The first customer to hear the conversation and witness the manager's attitude, which of course in reality is not tolerated at the Grassroots Market, threatens to tell the store's owner. And the next woman to hear the discrimination also confronts the rude manager.
"I have to tell you, that's really not nice," she says.
"I didn't mean to be rude," Jeremy replies.
"I can see that you didn't mean to be but it is rude," the customer insists.
The customer, Cathy, then offers some comfort to Melia.
"I'm sorry, but he's the manager. Do you really want to work with somebody like that?" she asks.
Melia, in tears, confides, "It's like he's making an assumption that I'm not intelligent…simply based on my size."
Cathy tells Melia, "Well, that's a problem with him, it's not something wrong with you." And then Cathy walks our distraught applicant outside.
Not Everyone Is Sympathetic in Weight Discrimination Scenario
Another female customer hears our actors' conversation and watches as Melia leaves the store angry. The customer tells the cashier, "I can understand, but it's hard to tell somebody that," and then tells our actor Jeremy "Well, I understand your point because… you were being very honest which I have to commend you for it. Because honesty... I mean what are you going to do, you can't skirt around the issue."
When "What Would You Do?" host John Quinones introduces himself and explains the scenario, the customer tells Quinones "Well, I have to say, …I'm with him (the actor playing the role of manager) on it. I really am. I think that you know, he told the truth instead of lying, and honesty, to me, is always the right way to go, regardless."
"But he was discriminating against someone based on their weight," Quinones says.
And the customer replies "No, he's a, he's a business owner, and he's allowed to do... He can hire whoever he wants to hire. That's the way I look at it."
But in one customer, the situation inspires anger and leads to a tense confrontation.
"I lost my appetite from f***ing hearing what you just said to her," he tells our store manager, Jeremy.
Watch the scenario unfold on "What Would You Do?" on Friday, 9 p.m. ET.