Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obese Persons No Longer Welcome as Employees at Texas Hospital

"Step on the scale, please." That's what job applicants are being told at a Texas hospital, which has instituted a policy of not hiring anyone with a body mass index (BMI) over 35, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

According to the article: "There have been undercurrents of weight discrimination in the workplace for years, but a Texas hospital decided to go anti-fat full throttle. A Texas newspaper recently reported about a fat-averse Texas hospital - Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas - and its unheard-of policy of refusing to hire anyone with a body mass index of more than 35."

"The policy, according to The Texas Tribune, states:

... an employee's physique "should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional," including an appearance "free from distraction" for hospital patients.

"The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance," hospital chief executive David Brown said in an interview. "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."

The Rest of the Story

As was predicted by many of my readers, the trend of not hiring smokers has now spread to not hiring obese people.

The most important point from this story is that the exact reasoning being used by anti-smoking advocates to support not hiring smokers supports exactly what Citizens Medical Center is doing. Once you support employment discrimination to save money, create a certain public image, or send a message, then it becomes justified not only for smokers but for any group that engages in unhealthy, private, and legal personal behaviors.

It appears that a major factor for the hospital's decision was the fact that older patients do not like looking at fat people. Let's face it. That's what the hospital executive director means when he says: "they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance."

So what this essentially boils down to - the rest of the story - is that Citizens Medical Center is refusing to employ the obese because it is afraid that older patients do not want to have to look at fat people. This is about as despicable as one can get in hiring policies without breaking the law.

At very least, the hospital should change its name to reflect the fact that it no longer treats all "citizens" equally. The hospital ought to rename itself Thin Citizens Medical Center.

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