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?