Smokers and the obese need not apply

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Reference no: EM131272446

Smokers and the Obese Need Not Apply

Almost every organization in the United States recognizes that it's imperative to have healthy employees. Given the significant cost increases in health insurance coverage for employees (see Chapter 12), employers have looked at a number of ways to reduce these ever-increasing financial burdens. Many have implemented wellness/disease-management pro- grams designed to assist employees in maintaining a healthy life. Programs such as exercise, diet, blood pressure control, and smoking cessation can be found in nearly all organizations that offer such assistance to employees. But some other organizations are viewing this a bit differently. Rather than assist employees in preventing such difficulties, they are simply deciding to not hire smokers and individuals who are obese be- cause of the increased risk of health issues. As long as obesity is not attributable to a disability (which would be a potential EEO violation), the organization has every right to do so. Only some states protect the rights of smokers in regard to employment and smokers may be charged higher insurance premiums in any state.

Statistics show that the smokers and the obese have greater health problems, which increase the cost of health insurance to the organization. And these costs are not just for health insurance premiums but may also include increases in an organization's life and disability insurance, as well as workers' compensation. Whirlpool Corp. recently suspended thirty-nine smokers in 2008 for claiming on their benefits enrollment form that they were nonsmokers to avoid a $500 annual tobacco-use surcharge on their health insurance premium. Scott's Miracle Gro prohibits smoking by employees and fires those who fail random tests for nicotine.

Discrimination against the obese is much more subtle than the policies against smokers. Research at the University of Hawaii has found that in the absence of policies against hiring the obese, overweight people are discriminated against in the hiring process because employers are concerned about insurance costs and future health conditions as well as the perception that they may have physical limitations that would limit their ability to do their job.71 Research seems to indicate that the perceptions may be true. Obesity is costing U.S. corporations more than $13 billion annually and results in more than 50 million lost productive days at work. The obese spend approximately 90 mil- lion days in the hospital each year. As such, refusing to hire them is viewed as a cost-cutting matter.72


What is your thought on this issue? Should employers be allowed to "discriminte" against smokers and the obese? Why or why not? Your opinion must be supported with rationale.

This assignment requires introduction and conclusion to the case. The total number of words should be no less than 500.

Reference no: EM131272446

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