Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fat Need Not Apply

An article published last week on the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog quotes Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove as lamenting the fact that he cannot legally refuse to hire morbidly obese individuals and as supporting stigmatization of, and discrimination against, overweight individuals.

The Cleveland Clinic has deemed smokers to be unsuitable for employment. New employees are required to undergo a cotinine test and are refused employment if testing indicates that they smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

Now, it appears that smokers may be just the first group that the Cleveland Clinic is trying to purge from its work force. The overweight and obese appear to be next, as soon as Cosgrove gets word that it is only the morbidly obese who are protected by federal law.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals who are morbidly obese, it does not protect those who are merely obese or overweight. Thus, there is nothing to stop the Cleveland Clinic from refusing to hire anyone who is overweight or obese. The Cleveland Clinic is perfectly free to make being thin a requirement for employment. And it's frightening to know that its CEO is even thinking about doing so.

To be clear, what the Cleveland Clinic is doing is discriminating against smokers in employment. They are justifying this selective and targeted employment discrimination on the grounds that it is important to promote a healthy workforce. Yet they show no desire to actually promote a healthy workforce by making sure that prospective employees are actually healthy. They can be as unhealthy as they want to be, as long as they don't smoke and are not over weight.

What's next? Refusal to give smokers and obese/over weight people health care at the Cleveland Clinic?


Seven of Six said...

Didn't mean to step on your article Judith... didn't think anyone else would be posting.

My Niece is obese... very self conscious... not even 30 yet... good thing she doesn't smoke.

Judith said...

Seven, you didn't step on anything. I just read this article and thought to myself it's that old story. Discriminate against anyone, and you open the door for further discrimination against others. Why can't people understand that simply lesson. When they first started discriminating against those of us who smoke, I predicted that obese people would be next. Sad to say, I was right.

I feel bad for your niece, especially in a society that puts beauty before character.

Twinky P* said...

It's funny, though, since Southerners fry every thing. They're the ones that'll be hit by sin taxes the most. And they're the ones saying they should be able to eat what they want. This country has gone mad.