Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In The News

It's fascinating how much "fat" or "obese" issues pop in the news.  In today's edition of "In the News With Panda,"  we're talking about the hospital in Texas that refuses to hire people with a BMI over 35.  Full article is here.  Here are some excerpts with my comments in blue.  (Disclaimer:  My comments may upset some people but my intention is not to offend...just my own personal opinion and if you want to flame me in the comments, that's no problem.)

… 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.  Unless the patient is there for a weight related concern and is about to get lectured on their own weight, this should not matter.  How about people tattooed out the wazoo (I don't really care about this one as both Hubby and I have a tattoo but I know my mom or dad would rush to judgment) or have greasy hair?  My father was recently in a burn unit of a hospital for several weeks and some of the nurses and assistants and orderlies (not sure if that's what they're called anymore) appeared greasy, dirty, unkempt.  In my opinion, that's more important in appearance than if someone is overweight.  Also, some of these people could barely speak English to where if my father needed something, he had to repeat himself regularly.  But thank God they weren't fat! Really???  

A 5-foot-10 man who weighs 245 pounds would have a BMI of over 35, the hospital's cutoff.  A 5-foot-2 woman would be over the cutoff at 195 pounds.  I think I could've been a great worker at a hospital at 230 lbs.  I could move easily, could lift probably more than I can lift now (I've lost some muscle mass - that's what I get for not working out).  Am I in better shape now?  Of course, but would I be a better worker?  Probably not.  Little NSV here though - I could totally get a job here now!  LOL.

You’re costing employers too much money for medical coverage, and increasingly firms are imposing penalties on workers who don’t get with the healthy program.  OK.  I'm torn on this one.  On the one hand, I don't have issues with people who make poor health choices paying more for insurance premiums...smokers have had to do this for years.  On the other hand, I have cost my insurance company MORE with surgery and follow up care than I ever did when I was fat. the long run, I'm sure they're saving money.  But I was a "healthy" fat person.  Other than birth control, I was on NO meds (this is why I had to fight to get my WLS).  So the fact that you cost more is a generalization.  

For anyone who lives outside Michigan, the only recourse is going to the federal  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and seeking help under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Don’t expect a lot. Simply being overweight generally does not qualify as a disability.  And here's where I'm going to get flamed.  Being fat is not, I repeat is NOT, a disability.  I cannot stand it when I see people in motorized scooters or wheelchairs whose only issue is they're fat.  This CAN be fixed.  Get in the pool and move.  Start walking, even if it's just to the end of your driveway.  I think it's wrong to discriminate based on weight but you are NOT disabled if you are fat.  We want "fat acceptance."  Well, don't ask for preferential treatment because you're fat.  Now, the best example I can find with this is Holly (I'm sorry to call you out but you REALLY inspire me).  She couldn't walk to her mailbox...couldn't make it all the way around WalMart... so she mailbox at a time until she could walk up to 5 miles!  Was she/is she disabled?!?!  NO!  Now...she has arthritis in her knee, so what is she doing?  Swimming!  She's not making excuses.  She's making the difference in her own life.  Does this sound like someone who is disabled?!?!  Absolutely not!

The Texas example may seem over the top, but heavier workers have been hit in the wallet before.
In a study by John Cawley, an associate professor at Cornell University, he found that obese white women had worse labor market outcomes than any other overweight workers.  I think we all know this is a reality.  We are discriminated based on being fat.  People believe fat people are dumb and lazy.  I'm sure we all have examples of being passed over for promotions or not hired in the first place based on our obese status.  Or in other cases, it's just an uncomfortable work environment, such as I am experiencing now with Skinny Bitch #1.  

So there you have it.  I believe an employer has the right not to hire someone they think can't perform a job.  For instance, a mail carrier or meter maid who has to walk a route every day...probably not ideal to be 50 lbs overweight (although what a great way to lose weight!) but basing it on appearance and an "image" is just ridiculous.  I've laid out my opinions here...interested in hearing what you think. 


A.J. said...

I have read and reacted similarly to this article. I, personally, have an issue with the obese/overweight being considered a protected class. (However, I have a fundamental issue with lots of groups being considered protected classes.) I get really, really tired of EVERY shortcoming being turned into a disability.

While I can't say for certain, I am almost positive that I didn't get jobs because of my weight prior to my band. SImply because I didn't fit the "high end" image that the dentist wanted to portray. But I would never want to think that I had been hired to meet some "affirmative action fat quota" ( that is almost as insulting as not being hired because I'm overweight.)

I also have a problem with the suggestion that Skinny=Fit. It's just not so. There are plenty of people 50 lbs lighter than me who I could run circles around. And I would bet that there are folks 50 lbs heavier than me than could totally kick my ass in a fitness test. What happens when the hospital has a male nurse, who just happens to be a bodybuilder apply for a job?? It's very likely that he will be considered "obese" by raw numbers. Or do we only apply the BMI standard to the applicants that "look fat" ???

As for the issue of "costing employers more $$", I was opposed the notion of charging smokers more for insurance and I have just as much problem with charging obese workers more for insurance. Pretty much every person engages in some form of unhealthy, risky behavior so I take issue with only targeting one group.



Kristin50 said...

I have a real issue when we sit in judgement of individuals based on how they "look"!

What is beautiful to one, could be bag stanking ugly to the next!

We should never be judged on our looks for jobs. The bottom line is can you do the job efficiently and with compassion and a work ethic that surpasses the person you are competing for it for?

We are such a sad society, because we simply think pretty people or thin people are better. I mean really have you seen some of those train wrecks in the news. Just because one is skinny and beautiful, does not mean they have brain one in their heads.

Love your post sweetie!

jennxaz said...

I see this becoming more of a norm. Insurance is trying to become more this way with health tests at our company that determine how much you pay for insurance...if you are overweight you pay higher insurance premiums and same if you are a smoker. Right now there are not enough jobs and I can see how this will work for them...but what happens when job market swings and there are more jobs than people....will these lines slack?

Azmomo2 said...

It is totally not just a Texas thing... a few healthcare centers around here have started to make the push toward BMI standards among other things. I agree to a point where you have to preach one thing to your patient and they see you do another thing, but then again life is like that and people aren't going to take your advise based on how you look anyway.

I KNOW I cost my insurance more money now that I am doing something about my weight than I did before. I did not have any issues until recently and have been at least a 100 pounds overweight for 10 years. During that 10 years I paid insurance premiums and did not use insurance coverage 1 single time. If they want to charge more because I use more, then they should give back what I paid because I never used it right?

I also agree about the scooter thing. I broke my heal a little while back and I refused to use a scooter when I had to go shopping because I didn't want people to assume that I was riding around in it because I was fat and lazy! Because yeah I am quick to judge someone who is obese who rides around in a scooter too.

Steph said...

I'm not going to flame because I agree with you. Even at my heaviest, I've thought the "fat acceptance" movement was crap. Yes, discrimination sucks and if you are fat for a medical reason, I hate that for you, but for people to demand to be catered to because they are fat by choice or lack of motivation is ridiculous.

I can't say I agree with the hospital as it only encourages people to make unhealthy decisions to be considered for a job or to keep a job and that in and of itself is unhealthy, but perception is everything. I'd never take someone seriously if they were lecturing me on living a healthy lifestyle if they were obese themselves.

Amanda M. said...

"Being fat is not, I repeat is NOT, a disability. I cannot stand it when I see people in motorized scooters or wheelchairs whose only issue is they're fat. This CAN be fixed. Get in the pool and move."

I LOVE THIS. There have been many times that I've been nearly run over by a obese person in a darn scooter. My highest weight was 332. I made sure that I parked kind of in the back of the parking lot just so I wouldn't be judged.

I am a certified nurse's assistant. I was one at my highest weight. My patients were always clean, dry, and well groomed when I left at the end of the shift. Today, at 100 pounds lighter, they are still clean, dry, and well groomed. The big difference is that at the end of the day I don't feel completely exhausted.

I just don't know. The only thing that I can see that would be a problem if I had a doctor that was over weight and was telling me that I needed to lose weight or the importance of being at a healthy weight.

tz said...

I'm a healthcare worker and frankly a really good one! We do use our bodies a lot, but we mostly use our brains.