Citizens Medical Center, a hospital in the Texas town of Victoria in the lower Eastern part of the state, has a hiring policy in place that mandates that they will not hire any employee categorized as obese or having a BMI of over 35.
The reasons cited for this choice in hiring filters is that the hospital wants to represent themselves as a place of health and well being, which they believe is not reflected in employees who are obese. The hospital has made official statements supporting the fact that this policy, which has been in effect for several years, is a part of their personal appearance standards. The hospital maintains that patients have certain expectations for the way that persons knowledgeable about health should look and that the hospital seeks to uphold those standards.
BMI, or body mass index, is a ratio of height to weight that determines the proportions of a person and categorizes them based on what an ideal weight range should be for health. The method is highly criticized for issues such as failing to account for body composition. By this method for obesity determination, a body builder with an extremely low body fat percentage would appear obese.
To many, including the outraged National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, this policy should be illegal because they feel it is outright discrimination. An equal number of readers may be surprised to learn that, at this time, the hiring policy is not illegal in Texas. Actually, the only state where it would be illegal to implement this would be in Michigan. Several individual cities also prohibit hiring discrimination based on BMI including Santa Cruz and San Francisco in California as well as in Washington, D.C.
While the hospital has maintained that they will not change this policy and defended their point of view about appearance and obesity, they explain that they will not fire an existing employee who gains weight after being hired.