Texas hospital won't hire obese applicants

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boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984
Texas hospital won't hire obese applicants

http://houston.cbslocal.com/2012/04/07/texas-hospital-wont-hire-obese-applicants/

VICTORIA, Tex. (CBS Houston) ? Citizens Medical Center has instituted a policy which requires that all employees have a body mass index of less than 35.

The Texas Tribune is reporting that the Victoria hospital mandates that the body of every employee ?should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional.?

?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 added to the paper. ?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.?

Before being hired, a physician screens each potential employee to assess their general fitness as it pertains to their position of interest. The test includes measuring body mass index.

Some candidates have allegedly already been turned down for their weight problems. Those who become obese after hiring are not fired.

Brown noted that the hospital tries to help heavier candidates lose the extra pounds.

?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.?

Attention for their hiring criteria is nothing new for Citizens Medical ? the hospital is reportedly involved in litigation with doctors of Indian descent for charges of discrimination.

Body mass index, or BMI for short, is a system by which body fatness can be calculated factoring in one?s weight and height, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the hospital?s rules, a person who stands at 5?5″ and weighs over 210 pounds, or a person at 5?10″ weighing over 245 pounds, would not meet eligibility requirements for hire.

What do you think? Legal? Justifiable?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I don't understand why they are doing it. Because their patients have "expectations about appearance?" Huh???? What if I'm trim enough, but I have crooked teeth, or whatever? If a person's size doesn't limit their ability to do their job, then I don't see how it's any of the employers business. Now, if the person has to do a job that is physically demanding and requires a certain level of physical fitness, that makes perfect sense that they would test to make sure that you meet that level of fitness prior to hiring you. But if it's all about looks....I don't see how that could be legal.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I don't understand why they are doing it. Because their patients have "expectations about appearance?" Huh???? What if I'm trim enough, but I have crooked teeth, or whatever? If a person's size doesn't limit their ability to do their job, then I don't see how it's any of the employers business. Now, if the person has to do a job that is physically demanding and requires a certain level of physical fitness, that makes perfect sense that they would test to make sure that you meet that level of fitness prior to hiring you. But if it's all about looks....I don't see how that could be legal.

I agree with all this. Unless it's a bona fide occupational requirement to have a certain BMI/level of physical fitness, it's pretty discriminatory, IMO. This selection criteria would be shot down up here. Then again, Canada is VERY employee friendly. Employers here are often at a disadvantage.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

But Alissa, if you have crooked teeth, I bet you wouldn't be able to get a job at a Dentist's/Orthodontists office. If I knew my doctor smoked, don't you think it'd be kind of hard for me to take his advice to quit smoking for my health? You guys don't think it undermines the advice that Drs/nurses/CNA's should be giving if they themselves are living examples of what not to do? I wouldn't go to a mechanic that I saw stranded on the side of the road because he forgot to change his oil; why would I go to a Dr. that didn't eat right and exercise enough to keep his BMI below 35 (this is obviously not for those who are visibly fit and are the exceptions to the chart's validity)? If they can say no smoking, they can say no morbidly obese and I think most people think hospitals have the right to say no smoking to their employees.

Just like the Hooter's guy hiring a cute girl over an ugly one except in this case, the hospital offers to help those applying to meet the requirements.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

But Alissa, if you have crooked teeth, I bet you wouldn't be able to get a job at a Dentist's/Orthodontists office. If I knew my doctor smoked, don't you think it'd be kind of hard for me to take his advice to quit smoking for my health? You guys don't think it undermines the advice that Drs/nurses/CNA's should be giving if they themselves are living examples of what not to do? I wouldn't go to a mechanic that I saw stranded on the side of the road because he forgot to change his oil; why would I go to a Dr. that didn't eat right and exercise enough to keep his BMI below 35 (this is obviously not for those who are visibly fit and are the exceptions to the chart's validity)? If they can say no smoking, they can say no morbidly obese and I think most people think hospitals have the right to say no smoking to their employees.

Just like the Hooter's guy hiring a cute girl over an ugly one except in this case, the hospital offers to help those applying to meet the requirements.

I think it's quite possible to know that something is the right, healthy thing to do, and still not do it. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but plenty of people do it. Everyone knows that not eating right and not getting enough exercise is bad for you, but plenty of people fail in this area. If I saw a dr/nurse/cna/whatever, I would not assume that they don't know enough to know that being overweight is bad for you, but that they are normal human beings who struggle to break bad habits just as I do. I simply don't believe that your looks should play a part in hiring practices (and that is the only reason that the article gives.)

My mother used to work for a plastic surgeon. It was suspected that once the women got over a certain age, they were railroaded out because they didn't look young enough. This seemed to happen to my mother as well (she is 51 and had been at the office for over 12 years and never had any sort of write up or warning prior to being let go.) Recently we discovered an ad for a position at the drs office on Craig's list that flat out says "Submit a picture of yourself, otherwise I'll just find you on FB." Is that right, just because he is a plastic surgeon? I don't think so.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

It might not be right, but I don't think it should be illegal to base your hiring preferences on things you know will attract customers or will help upsell your product. Do you think a Dentist should have to hire someone with awful teeth just because they happen to be the most qualified on paper? Or that a receptionist who looks sloppy should get preference just because she looks better on paper? I don't. I think you have to find the right fit for the position. And I am serious when I say that it is hard to listen to someone give you advice you know they aren't taking.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Ultimately this is going to come down to how one feels about obesity being a protected class or not.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I do have a feeling it has more to do with sick days and insurance costs than anything though.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"wlillie" wrote:

But Alissa, if you have crooked teeth, I bet you wouldn't be able to get a job at a Dentist's/Orthodontists office. If I knew my doctor smoked, don't you think it'd be kind of hard for me to take his advice to quit smoking for my health? You guys don't think it undermines the advice that Drs/nurses/CNA's should be giving if they themselves are living examples of what not to do? I wouldn't go to a mechanic that I saw stranded on the side of the road because he forgot to change his oil; why would I go to a Dr. that didn't eat right and exercise enough to keep his BMI below 35 (this is obviously not for those who are visibly fit and are the exceptions to the chart's validity)? If they can say no smoking, they can say no morbidly obese and I think most people think hospitals have the right to say no smoking to their employees.

Just like the Hooter's guy hiring a cute girl over an ugly one except in this case, the hospital offers to help those applying to meet the requirements.

My dentist wasn't in line when that memo was passed out ;). He has beautiful, healthy, white teeth, but they're crooked. Not ugly crooked, just natural crooked. My GP is quite overweight. However, I don't discount her medical opinion and diagnostic ability because of it. There have been times that she has given me her opinion on the best way to exercise with a busy life and young kids, and I pretty much pay no mind to that because she clearly doesn't follow her own lifestyle advice, but the treatment/diagosis/testing stuff I still have 100% respect and confidence in her, even though she's gained a ton of weight over the past decade or so.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

My dentist wasn't in line when that memo was passed out ;). He has beautiful, healthy, white teeth, but they're crooked. Not ugly crooked, just natural crooked. My GP is quite overweight. However, I don't discount her medical opinion and diagnostic ability because of it. There have been times that she has given me her opinion on the best way to exercise with a busy life and young kids, and I pretty much pay no mind to that because she clearly doesn't follow her own lifestyle advice, but the treatment/diagosis/testing stuff I still have 100% respect and confidence in her, even though she's gained a ton of weight over the past decade or so.

See, that's mainly what I'm trying to say. And the exercising should be a part of most treatments (IMHO). I don't know anyone who doesn't benefit all around when they are exercising and eating right. If the doctor is trying to get them to exercise because they know it will help with their condition, it's hard to take their advice if they are fat. How are you supposed to take your weight seriously (general obviously!!!!) if the doctor isn't taking their own advice?

How many people do you see who are clueless or in denial that their knee/heart/arthritis/hair loss/lung (just in my family) issues can be helped by exercising and getting to a healthy weight?

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I'm somewhat torn on this one.

I do think employers should be able to hire whoever they want and for whatever reasons they want (just like I think landlords should be able to rent to whoever they want for whatever reasons). But, I get that it would suck not to get a job you are qualified for due to being over the BMI cutoff because your weight (within reason) doesn't impact the care you provide for patients.

Then again apparently they are offering weight loss support to candidates who need to lose a few pounds...

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I wouldn't go to an obese GP, or nutritionalist, therapist, personal trainer, or physical therapist. Just like I wouldn't go to a financial planner who had declared bankruptcy, or a tattoo artist covered in jailhouse junk. I don't see that as discrimination, I just see it as me wanting to surround myself with true experts in any given field. Expertise involves living it, not just talking about it.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"wlillie" wrote:

See, that's mainly what I'm trying to say. And the exercising should be a part of most treatments (IMHO). I don't know anyone who doesn't benefit all around when they are exercising and eating right. If the doctor is trying to get them to exercise because they know it will help with their condition, it's hard to take their advice if they are fat. How are you supposed to take your weight seriously (general obviously!!!!) if the doctor isn't taking their own advice?

How many people do you see who are clueless or in denial that their knee/heart/arthritis/hair loss/lung (just in my family) issues can be helped by exercising and getting to a healthy weight?

I agree with you Lillie. I don't listen to her advice re exercise and diet (not that I really need it) but she's still a good doctor. There are plenty of in-shape doctors at my clinic but they suck in terms of clinical evaluation/diagnostic testing/bedside manner etc. When DD got her first kidney infection this super healthy doctor/triathlete brushed it off as nothing much when all it would've taken was a quick dip of her pee. I've had another athete-doctor say to me "You're hardly a fatty, but try to stay as skinny as possible." Yeah, great advice. I know I'm giving specific examples, but in my own personal experience I've been happier and better cared for by doctors who are on the heavier side. Like I said though, I'm not quick to take her advice about exercise and healthy lifestyle

My mother is a perfect example of being in denial about her health issues. She beat breast cancer, but completely ignores the severity of her asthma or her weight issues because I think she has this mentality of "I beat cancer, so everything else is minor in comparison." Pi$$es me off that she's so cavalier about her health now.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"Potter75" wrote:

I wouldn't go to an obese GP, or nutritionalist, therapist, personal trainer, or physical therapist. Just like I wouldn't go to a financial planner who had declared bankruptcy, or a tattoo artist covered in jailhouse junk. I don't see that as discrimination, I just see it as me wanting to surround myself with true experts in any given field. Expertise involves living it, not just talking about it.

And I don't think you would find many obese people in those careers, with the exception of some of the older doctors. Off all the doctors I work with, maybe two would technically be obese according to BMI. One of those is a large woman (6 feet tall, large frame, and who goes on cycling vacations regularly) and the other is very short and a little chubby, but who I know exercises.

I think nursing falls into more of a grey area.

Regardless though, the employer can hire based on whatever criteria they want.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

My mother is a perfect example of being in denial about her health issues. She beat breast cancer, but completely ignores the severity of her asthma or her weight issues because I think she has this mentality of "I beat cancer, so everything else is minor in comparison." Pi$$es me off that she's so cavalier about her health now.

Off topic, but dh had cancer and hates my love of cigarrettes (given up for duration of TTC and now I guess breastfeeding relationship) and the tanning bed (given up completely), but only eats healthy when I push it. So aggravating that he doesn't care that one out of two of the biggest things he can do is completely ignored. At least he exercises, but I wonder if he would if he didn't have to for our job!!!

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"Potter75" wrote:

I wouldn't go to an obese GP, or nutritionalist, therapist, personal trainer, or physical therapist. Just like I wouldn't go to a financial planner who had declared bankruptcy, or a tattoo artist covered in jailhouse junk. I don't see that as discrimination, I just see it as me wanting to surround myself with true experts in any given field. Expertise involves living it, not just talking about it.

I totally agree with this. In the end this is a private employer and has the right to hire anyone or not hire anyone that they please. I don't agree with it 100%, but I respect it.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I don't agree with it, but I think it is the right of the employer.

Beating up on obese people makes me sad.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Potter75" wrote:

I wouldn't go to an obese GP, or nutritionalist, therapist, personal trainer, or physical therapist. Just like I wouldn't go to a financial planner who had declared bankruptcy, or a tattoo artist covered in jailhouse junk. I don't see that as discrimination, I just see it as me wanting to surround myself with true experts in any given field. Expertise involves living it, not just talking about it.

So I agree with everything other than the GP part. Having grown up in the medical industry, I can attest that some of the most talented respiratory therapists smoked and some of the most talented diagnosticians were chubby. Weight doesn't donate your ability to diagnose or treat.

For the others you noted, I think there purpose is different.

It is your choice to choose to judge on that parameter, but I would personally go on one's recommendations and record than their weight.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Been dealing a LOT with medical people lately, the Dr's are slim, but when it comes to nurses, or especially the front desk people, the majority were over weight for sure and I am sure are over their BMI.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 274

Some of the best nurses I have ever had were heavy. Medications do play roles in weight too.

Employers have every right to hire who they feel is best suitable for their staff. I just think they will lose out on some potential awesome talent for a superficial reason.