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Hospital bans obese job applicants

The Citizens Medical Center, in Victoria, requires all potential employees to have a body mass index, a formula used to determine fat, of less than 35, according to its CEO.

Do the math, the formula translates to a weight of 210lbs for someone who is 5ft 5in, and ensures employees fit with a “specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional”, the hospital chief, David Brown, said.

According to the Texas Tribune, job applicants are screened by a physician ‘to assess their fitness for work’ as part of the hiring process.

And it has nothing to do with insurance costs, Brown told the Tribune the regulation is based largely on ‘appearance’.

“The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance,” he said.

“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.”

Now if you were already working there and became fat you won’t be getting a pink slip. But applicants have been turned away as a result of the policy, implemented more than a year ago.

“We have some people who are applicants and they know the requirements, and we try and help them get there but they’re not interested,’ he said. ‘So that’s fine, they can go work somewhere else.”

Texas does not have laws that prohibit weight discrimination in hiring, although it does prohibit discrimination based on race, age or religion.

But critics say the hospital is misguided by judging health based on BMI alone, as the number does not distinguish between muscle and fat.

Others say employers could miss out on talented candidates as a result of the policy.

Peggy Howell, public relations director for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, told the Tribune, “This is discrimination plain and simple. So the field of medicine is no longer an option for people of larger body size? What a waste of talent.”

A 2010 study of 2,000 people by Slimming World found overweight people lose out in the workplace because employers assume they will be lazy. In the poll of 200 bosses, a quarter of men said they would turn down a candidate purely on their weight and one in 10 admitted they had already done so.

The most overweight people were most likely to dread applying for a new job, and were found to earn less than other staff and are more likely to be bullied or overlooked for promotion.

What do you think of the policy? Would you go to a fat doctor?

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2012 by in Online Dish.
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