Instinctively, this question will likely generate a resounding no way from most people. Shockingly though (perhaps not so much?) this question isn't hypothetical.
An Indiana court has ruled that a pizza shop must pay for a 340 pound employee's weight-loss surgery, to ensure the success of another operation for a back injury he suffered at work.
Boston's, The Gourmet Pizza, must pay for lap-band surgery for cook Adam Childers. Childers, who was then 25, weighed 340 pounds in March 2007 when he was accidentally struck in the back by a freezer door. Doctors said he needed surgery to ease his severe pain, but that the operation would do him no good unless he first had surgery to reduce his weight, which rose to 380 pounds after the accident.
The employers agreed to pay for the back surgery, but argued that they should not have to pay for the weight loss surgery, as Childers was obese at the time of the accident.
The board and court, however determined otherwise, deciding that his weight and his accident had combined to create a single injury. The employers reluctance is understandable, given the $20,000 - $25,000 price tag of the surgery.
Evidently more and more of these cases are reaching similar conclusions. Most recently, the Oregon state Supreme Court ruled that the state workers' compensation insurance must pay for gastric bypass surgery to ensure that a man's knee replacement surgery was effective.
A Bad Precedence?
Cases like this will certainly make employers think twice about hiring someone overweight, or otherwise prone to injury. Legally, however you are not allowed to discriminate based on size in any of the 50 States.
I think employers should strive to maintain a workplace conducive to health(admittedly, a pizza joint isn't easy to make into a healthy workplace).
In my opinion, companies should offer healthy food options, and larger organizations should perhaps offer gym membership subsidies, host health seminars, and have healthy living contests, and other incentives.
It's a sensible investment as healthier employees are generally more productive, take less sick days, and are more likely to stay with a company which has health-driven values.
Do you think there are any circumstances in which an employer should pay for weight loss surgery? Do you see this type of ruling becoming commonplace?
Source: Associated Press