A Texas hospital is under fire for a new policy which requires potential employees to have a body mass index of under thirty-five. The hospital, Citzens Medical Center, does not cite increased insurance costs, elevator weight limits, or small doors as their reason for the attempted reduction in average employee weight. No, no. The reason, according to David Brown, chief executive at the hospital, is that "the majority of our patients are over sixty-five, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance." So apparently, old people don't like fat people, a stark warning of the prophesied Great Obese-Elderly War of 2213.
The policy isn't against the law, but only a handful of states disallow discrimination against the corpulent. In Texas, the only qualifiers that employers can't discriminate against are age, race, and gender. Which is hilarious, given that the elderly are themselves protected against discrimination, but apparently in this case, their hatred of the obese is the impetus for this new hiring decision.
One thing that muddies the waters is that Citizens Medical Center is already battling a previous discrimination issue, albeit a significantly less morally acceptable one. In 2007, the same David Brown sent a memo saying that he felt "a sense of disgust" that about the presence of "Middle-Eastern-born" physicians. "It will change the entire complexion of the hospital and create a level of fear among our employees," he wrote.
A background like that throws into sharp relief that while there may be pragmatic reasons to discriminate against the obese, remember that appearance is not one, unless you use the method places like Hooters use, and call your employees "models." Really, caring about the appearance of the people who are saving your life or caring for you is absurd. If it was an issue of physical ability or even something as basic as the hospital having to pay for larger scrubs, then discriminate away; you're a business and that's your prerogative. Discrimination based on appearance is only fair if you're trying to sell clothing or mediocre chicken wings.