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Cutting the Fat: Can Employers Just Say ‘No’ to Obese Applicants?

by on
in HR Soapbox

In the past decade, two things have definitely grown: Americans’ waistlines and the desire for U.S. employers to reduce their employee-related health care costs.

Those two trends have more employers considering a legally risky thought: Can we refuse to hire overweight people?

A Texas hospital made headlines when it decided to stop hiring people with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. Bad publicity led the hospital to suspend its policy.

Still, with nearly 36% of adults in this country considered obese, according to the CDC, this issue isn’t going away.

What does the ADA say?

No federal employment law, only one state (Michigan) and a handful of cities specifically prohibit employers from discriminating against overweight people in hiring, firing and job conditions.

That means the debate typically comes down to a question of whether obesity is a covered “disability” under the ADA. (The ADA protected disabled ...(register to read more)

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