Hospital Won’t Hire Very Obese Workers

A Texas Tribune story (“Victoria Hospital Won’t Hire Very Obese Workers“) raises an interesting question: Should employers be allowed to discriminate based on weight or other aspects of physical appearance.

As the story points out, the hospital’s policy goes beyond the ability to function on the job or health costs concerns.

Citizens Medical Center’s written policy doesn’t indicate that paying for the health insurance of obese workers is too expensive — the reason some companies have been able to ban workers who use tobacco — or suggest that obese employees are unable to do their jobs. Mostly, it references physical appearance, and puts overweight applicants in the same category as those with visible tattoos or facial piercings.

Their argument seems relatively straight forward. Many of their patients are over 65 and apparently don’t like seeing obese people. According to the hospital’s chief executive, “The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance.”

Texas law does not protect the obese from discrimination (only one state does) but we may have to decide whether or not it should.

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