Texas Hospital Stops Hiring Overweight People

The policy prohibits hiring people with a high BMI — and it's legal.

The "Texas Tribune" reports that Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas won't hire anyone with a BMI above 35. CEO David Brown offers an odd explanation: "The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance." So, old people don't like fat people? Even if this were true, it doesn't seem to have much bearing on actual medical care.

Via: panoramio.com

The policy is apparently legal — Texas has no laws prohibiting weight discrimination in hiring (in fact, only the state of Michigan and six U.S. cities do). But criticism is unsurprisingly flying. Suzanne Lucas of CBS points out that the hospital could still get in legal trouble if anyone can show that its BMI requirements have "a disproportionate impact on a particular group" (she mentions African-American women, who tend to have higher BMI than the national average). She also is surely not alone in thinking the policy is bad PR: "Now if you Google 'Victoria Hospital Texas,' three references to the obesity policy show up on the the first page of hits. Is that what you want prospective patients, donors, and employees to know about you? Probably not."

But Citizens Medical Center isn't the first — or even most high profile — company to get involved in employees' weight. In 2010, Whole Foods instituted the Team Member Healthy Discount Program, which offered higher employee discounts to those with lower BMIs. The program drew a lot of criticism at the time — one customer told the "New York Daily News," "This is really stupid. They are judging people on how they look."

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