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Has the New Policy at Citizens Medical Center Gone Too Far?

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More controversy for Citizens Medical Center officials this week, following the announcement of a new policy that may be considered discrimination, based on physical appearance. When you apply for a job, you assume your qualifications are what matter most, but Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas is also asking prospective new hires to step on a scale. If they weigh too much, they’re excluded from consideration.

It may sound like something that would be illegal, but it’s not — at least not here in Texas. Only the state of Michigan and a handful of US cities ban discrimination against the overweight in hiring. And unlike anti-tobacco policies put in place because insuring smokers is too costly, this policy isn’t about health. It’s about how someone looks.

Citizens Medical Center 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.

What does the hospital consider too fat? A body mass index of 35 or more. That means if you’re 5-foot-5, you can’t tip the scales at more than 210 pounds. For someone who’s 5-foot-10, the cutoff is 245 pounds.

If that weren’t enough, it’s already embroiled in a separate discrimination lawsuit brought by three doctors of Indian descent. In that action, emails written by Brown show he felt “a sense of disgust” that more “Middle-Eastern-born” physicians were demanding leadership roles at the hospital, saying, “It will change the entire complexion of the hospital and create a level of fear among our employees.”

 

[Texas Tribune]

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