Citizens Medical Center in Texas is coming under fire for its new policy that states that it will no longer hire people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 of higher. The hospital, who is also currently being sued by Indian doctors for alleged racial discrimination, says that it will no longer consider obese applicants because they are a “distraction” to patients.

Hospital chief executive David Brown explains the policy: “The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance. 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.”

While it might appear to make sense for a hospital to want to employ only healthy people, as Suzanne Lucas of CBS News points out, Citizen Medical Center’s policy doesn’t cut both ways; they aren’t turning away underweight applicants. Moreover, BMI is notoriously unreliable when it comes to determining a person’s health (and as these pictures show, “obesity” means many different things).

Citizens Medical Center says its policy is lawful because weight isn’t a protected category under Texas laws–only race, religion, and age–but many, including the Texas Hospital Association question the practice.

An unnamed doctor at the hospital spoke with The Texas Tribune and told reporters that BMI and weight are not good indicators of who will be a good employee, and also added that “if more people knew about [the policy], they would be justifiably pissed.”

While Citizens will no longer hire applicants with a BMI of 35 or higher, overweight employees whose BMI is higher than the limit will not be fired.

What do you think of the hospital’s hiring policy?

  • CurlySue

    Well, I don’t have an issue with hospitals requiring their employees to be in relatively good health, but I feel the BMI is a poor way to truly determine someone’s overall health. It doesn’t take into account muscle mass, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc etc. I feel like it’s a woefully inadequate tool for determining who to hire and who to fire.

  • Ocean Blue

    Yea, what you said.

  • pink

    I sure understand the hospital’s overall point; however it urked me when employers try to police what people do on their own time. Whether it’s over-eating, overweight, not exercising, etc. Although we all know these are things that are not good for us. That being said…..I’m soooooo tired of seeing so many obese people. It’s at epidemic proportions. Fat arms, thighs, big stomachs, and people walking around like everything is ok. People need to wake up and realize it’s not good for their health.

  • binks

    So a lot of doctors should get fired too because many of them aren’t the “picture” of health either

  • June

    I am outraged that a hospital would discriminate based on a person’s BMI. The BMI is calculated based on weight and height. It never takes into account a person’s muscle mass or even their physical fitness. I am “obese” according to my BMI and I walked/ran a marathon last month!

  • gmarie

    No I don’t think it’s fair if they are otherwise qualified to do the job. There are plenty of slim people who drink like sailors and can barely make it to their cars in the parking lot without breaking a sweat. I suppose if they gave annual fitness tests and physicals to ALL of their employees the way we had to take them in high school then they would be able to determine the level of health an individual possesses. Otherwise this is discrimination along the same lines of discriminating because of skin color, hair color , or handicaps.

  • Reason

    Is it unfair that we only vote people with law degrees in office? Tell you what, it sho’ ain’t workin’…

  • chanela

    Aren’t most doctors chain smokers tho? how about they stop hiring doctors that smoke since they’re contradicting themselves by telling patients to stop smoking for health reasons hmm??

  • Maude

    Their decision seemingly has nothing to do with health–it says above that it’s to meet their clients’ standards of “personal appearance.” That is a very slippery slope.

  • Shirl

    Just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you are healthly. As a patient I don’t care what you look like I care how you treat me period.

  • pink

    Chanela: Most doctors? I’m sure some doctors smoke; but I doubt very seriously if MOST do

  • Tricia

    I guess I can’t get a job there then!

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