Employers Punishing Workers for Their Weight

July 31, 2007 at 10:18 am (injustice, stupidity) (, , , , )

Commenter ClapSo made a pretty dire prediction the other day, after reading this post, that turned out to be right on the mark:

It’s a shame isn’t it? Overweight people have become the “new smokers.” Now that the “experts” have “proven” that being overweight can be “caught” It’s only a matter of time before they institute a “fat tax.”

Now I learn that a hospital chain based in Indiana is charging employees up to $30 every two weeks unless they meet their standards for weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Only if they’re fat, though…there’s no mention of workers who are thin enough to warrant health risks.

Workers can attend free weight-reduction classes, and there are now regular competitions between departments to see who can lose the most weight.

“When we have birthday parties now,” he said, “people don’t want sugar-laced cake and candy – they want fruit and deli trays.”

Acknowledging that it could be partially the result of the new deductible, he noted that the county didn’t have to raise its insurance premiums this year and likely won’t next year.

Critics of the lose-it-or-pay trend say that companies that charge heavier employees more for their medical coverage are turning the health care system into a police state and, just as worrisome, are working off a false assumption: that it’s easy for people who are obese and have other health issues to change their situations.

The critics are correct. We simply cannot allow employers to claim this kind of responsibility over their employees. I mean, what, do they want to implement a company bed-time too?

Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, a Princeton, N.J.-based employees rights group, called the trend “a very dangerous road that could lead to employers controlling everything we do in our private lives.”

“To penalize for things that are beyond some people’s control is just wrong,” he said.

Ugh.

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