Hospitals Are Allowed to Not Hire Fat People
Hospitals Are Allowed to Not Hire Fat People

Smokers must step outside to puff Mandatory drug screening eliminates users from employment whether theyre high on the job or not Now the Texas Tribune reports that Citizens Medical Center in Victoria Texas is adding another health issue to the list of workplace nonos obesity

If your body mass index BMI is over 35 you cant get a job at Citizens Medical Or so the outcry would have you believe

Go ahead say how unfair that is how Citizens Medical is cutting off its nose to spite its face because management is more concerned with peoples looks than their skill sets Then tell yourself If it were me Id sue the bastards

If you did you might be in for a rude shock Only the state of Michigan and six other cities ban employment discrimination based on size For the rest of us unless a negotiated contract states otherwise the employment at will philosophy allows making weight a factor in the hiring decision Citizens Medical and other employers are within their rights to reject overweight and obese job applicants

There is however a right way and a wrong way to do this The wrong way is to put each applicant on a scale and send those that dont meet the standard packing without further consideration The right way and the one Citizens Medical claims to follow is to alert the candidate to the issue and support his or her efforts to remedy it This approach is a quotwinwinquot for both candidate and employer it helps the candidate make a positive lifestyle change and helps the employer combat the spiraling costs associated with a US population that is rapidly losing the battle of the bulge

The media coverage would have you believe that the Citizens Medical policy is a blanket quotfat people need not applyquot approach The facts state otherwise According to a George Washington University Medical Center study a BMI of 35 is commonly classified as severely obese BMIs between 25 and 30 are rated overweight BMIs between 30 and 35 are rated moderately obese In short there are two categories of above normal weight candidates that could work at Citizens Medical According to this table from the NIH Website that links BMI numbers with heights and weights a 6foot person could weigh up to 250 pounds and meet Citizens Medical standards

Candidates with higher BMIs dont forfeit their chance of working automatically according to hospital CEO David Brown They are offered help those who accept remain active candidates while those who refuse must look elsewhere It sounds more like a quottoughlovequot approach than the quotfat need not applyquot approach the media would have you believe

I can see the antidiscrimination lobby responding with something like What about the bodybuilder who has a BMI of 36 but only 7 body fat What about someone on medication with a side effect of weight gain

They raise legitimate concerns regarding the implementation of antiobesity policies For the Citizens Medical policy to avoid litigation it is vital that the medical evaluation identify obesity readings that result from aboveaverage muscle mass chronic conditions or prescription drug side effects Rejection based on either an inaccurate obesity ruling or obesity resulting from other conditions could be subject to litigation Thats why its vital that the medical evaluation that is part of employment application include more than a simple weighin and allow room for the exercise of common sense It must include a medical history that includes a record of any chronic conditions and preseciption drug use Folks responsible for medical evaluations at Citizens or other employers hopefully have enough common sense to differentiate a tonedtothehilt specimen from a couch potato and enough authority to waive the obesity rule if extenuating circumstances exist

However the costs of workplace obesity are an equally legitimate concern The numbers are grim the CDC reports that approximately onethird of American adults are obese In January 2011 McKinsey amp Co reported that the US spent 160 billion on obesityrelated medical expenses and 450 billion on indirect expenses This doubles the 2001 amount and is expected to double again by 2018 The associated costs are making headlines in media such as USA Today US News amp World Report Yahoo and NPR Obesity costs are rising 36 a year Employers are aware of this 87 of large companies will implement or enhance policies to promote healthy lifestyles

Citizens Medical is not alone in its concern about workplace obesity But the media circus might have hindered its policys effectiveness Has the drive to obtain an expose derailed an idea that might otherwise have motivated skilled people burdened by weight issues to turn themselves around and live more healthy and productive lives Populating the workplace with attractive people wasnt the prime motive behind the Citizens Medical antiobesity policy Giving people a chance at selfredemption was

Date : 19 Apr, 2012
Reference : http://www.policymic.com/debates/6932/hospitals-are-allowed-to-not-hire-fat-people

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