We live in a society that is obsessed with appearance, and studies show that many people equate appearance to success.  While employers may not be aware of these studies, some are trying to control appearance in the workplace by imposing weight restrictions on job applicants or employees as a condition of employment.  

Whether these policies

In Victoria, Texas, the Citizens Medical Center prohibits hiring obese employees.  The hospital promulgated a policy that requires all potential employees to have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35.  For example, an applicant who is 5-foot-5 could not weigh more than 210 pounds, and an applicant who is 5-foot-10 could not weigh more than 245 pounds.  All potential employees are screened by a physician to assess their fitness for duty.  According to the hospital’s policy, an employee’s physical appearance “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a health care professional.”

Continue Reading Are Weight Characteristics Permissible Factors in Evaluating Job Applicants?

Thirty-four percent of adults in the United States presently qualify as obese under standards adopted by the Center for Disease Control.  Morbid obesity (defined as having a body weight more than 100% over the norm) and obesity caused by a psychological disorder are "disabilities" as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), according to the EEOC.  Lawsuits involving morbid obesity are on the rise and come in many shapes and sizes.  The most common involves a “substantially limiting” health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.  Others involve employers who assume an obese employee would pose a direct threat to the health and safety of him or herself or other employees if he or she were to carry out the essential functions of the job.


Continue Reading A Big Problem: Obesity Discrimination In The Workplace