Fat? This Hospital Won't Hire You

fat no hire hospitalSay you are 5 feet 10 inches tall, weigh 250 pounds, and are applying for an administrative job at a hospital. If it happens to be with the Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas, then don't bother applying -- you are too heavy for their liking.

The southeastern Texas hospital has adopted an unusual policy in which it will not hire anyone with a body mass index over 35, or 230 pounds for anyone 5 feet 8 inches; 260 pounds for anyone 6 feet. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, which first reported on the BMI-based policy, CMC's chief executive, David Brown, defended the practice, saying the hospital had a responsibility to cater to its patients' preferences.

"The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance," said Brown. "We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what's best for our business and for our patients."

Ironically, soon after the interview was published, a new study was published arguing that BMI is an insufficient measure of body weight.

Obese Have Few Legal Protections

Still, most experts agree that obese and overweight Americans -- slightly more than two out of three adults fall into that group -- have few legal protections when it comes to workplace discrimination. Overweight Americans are only protected from discrimination if their weight is registered as a formal disability under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

Outside of that small group, the overweight are not currently considered a civil rights group to be protected from workplace discrimination in the way racial minorities and older workers are. Only six cities and one state -- Michigan -- have anti-discrimination laws that extend protections to the overweight. The cities are Santa Cruz, Calif.; San Francisco; Madison, Wis.; Urbana, Ill.; Washington, D.C.; and Binghamton, N.Y.)

Although the Texas Hospital Association expressed concern about Citizen Medical Center's policy ("There is an indication that not hiring someone due to obesity might be successfully challenged in court," a spokesman told the Tribune), the fact is, it has been tough to win a discrimination case on the basis of weight.

"Most employers would not admit [hiring someone because they are skinny] and would say they are more productive or whatever," Jennifer Pomeranz, the director of Legal Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, said in an email to AOL Jobs. "But if they were sued for not promoting or hiring someone based on their weight, generally the plaintiff does not have a case outside of Michigan."

Yet a majority of Americans thinks they should. According to a survey of 1,000 respondents conducted two years ago by the Rudd Center, 65 percent of men and 81 percent of women support a law that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or deny a promotion or raise to a qualified person based on weight.

Brown, of CMC, is also currently involved in another discrimination case over a memo he wrote in 2007, in which he expressed his "sense of disgust" over the rise of "Middle-Eastern-born" doctors at CMC.

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Kimba Wiggins

I lost 120 lbs last year because I wanted to...and I get a lot more respect because of it. I wouldn't hire anyone that's 5'8" and 300 lbs, especially if it involves saving lives. If a female is 5' and 330 lbs, no health club will hire her or anyone else that's obese. That's an unfortunate fact, but being healthy is paramount. I get people constantly complaining about what I eat...but I don't see them altering their eating habits and lifestyle. I still eat fast food and sweets...but much much less of it. It doesn't take me very long to get full. I drink lots of water, walk everyday and spend time outdoors. To an employer, being big is a liability that they don't want to take on.

June 17 2015 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They will save thousands in health care costs.

December 10 2012 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So ask yourself if you really want a 300 lb policeman, or emergency worker coming to your assistance on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator? Sorry, but I lost 55 lbs using nothing but calorie counting and will power - it can be done.

April 07 2012 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amie Nogrady

When did it become policy for patient's accepted tastes and preferences to be held above finding the best person for the job? Ask a bunch of 65 year old men and they will say they want busty blondes to give them their night time meds and sponge baths. Does that mean they should get that? This is an administrative position, right? In the local hospitals here the patients never see the office staff to begin with so why would it even matter?

April 06 2012 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If a person needs to be in good physical shape to perform a job such as fireman, policeman, EMT I can understand a business not hiring an obese person. But a desk job doesn't fit into that category and I would consider that discrimination.

April 05 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Finally. Same policy should be applied as a law. You're 10 pounds over? You're out!

April 05 2012 at 9:32 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dicalzi's comment
Amie Nogrady

Ten pounds on what chart? BMI? Imperfect at best. Weight alone? Doesn't tell the real story, that is just one part of the tale. What about health/body fat percentage, etc. Would you like to give a blood sample to get a job? Make sure your blood sugar/cholesterol and other stats measure up?

April 06 2012 at 12:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The FDA puts all these chemicals in the foods, steroids in the meat while its alive, bi-fillers in everything to strech profit....People today are not eating anymore than they did 40 years ago, its just what is in the food now is making us fat and sick.....Ever wonder why girl get boobs at 10 now....Its from the steroids used in beef to make them grow bigger and faster. You have to eat all natural foods anymore...and a lot of those have been chemically enhanced

April 05 2012 at 6:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dytimmys's comment

Wrong. People eat more and sit around more. It's become socially acceptable to be fat.

December 10 2012 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Most companies consider 'fat' as a liability as do insurance companies. Diabetes, high blood pressure/stroke, circulatory problems waiting to happen. Obesity is as harmful as smoking and most companies shun that, too. It's a reason not to hire and yet, it's a real addiction as is food. Obese people cannot function as well. I go to a beauty shop where, on occasion, an obese (not merely plump) sometimes shampoo's me. She's so fat she can't get near the chair enough to use her fingertips. As a result she claws my scalp with her nails, At the same time she's groaning and huffing and puffing because bending is such a chore.

April 05 2012 at 5:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

equal opportunity employer? NO...isn't this discrimination. someone needs to sue. this hospitol apparently has lots of money to throw around.

April 05 2012 at 5:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mamasilverhair's comment

I thought about that as I have a Degree in Medicine and due to a spine injury have become over-weight....At first I was mad , then I though...would I really want a health care professional taking care of me, trusting them with my life if they can't take care of themselves....Even thyroid prroblems are easy to manage. The only excuses are being bedridden or ill in some other form

April 05 2012 at 6:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its Texas its world of its own to say the least. Only place I have ever seen that a lawsuit can be filed and the judge hearing the case is the father of the plaintiff's attorney. Seems corruption runs deep in the far south and its allowed.

April 05 2012 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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