Texas-based Hospital “Citizens Medical Center” Suspends Body Mass Index Employment Requirement

For Immediate release
April 12, 2012                                                                                             

For More Information:
James Zervios
Director of Communications
(800) 717-3117  
jzervios@obesityaction.org

Tampa, Fla. – Earlier today, Citizens Medical Center Chief Executive Officer, David Brown, contacted OAC President and CEO Joe Nadglowski and informed Mr. Nadglowski that their weight-based hiring policy has been suspended.

The Center recently came under fire when media outlets throughout the U.S. focused attention on its body mass index (BMI) requirement for employment. The policy stated that individuals with a BMI of 35 or more would not be eligible for employment at Citizens Medical Center. OAC leadership reached out to Mr. Brown and expressed their concerns that this hiring policy greatly perpetuated weight bias and stigma often associated with the disease of obesity.

“The OAC is very pleased that Mr. Brown and Citizens Medical Center have decided to remove the policy. It is unfortunate that the policy was ever implemented; however, we applaud them for taking a proactive step toward reducing weight bias,” said Nadglowski.

The OAC’s Web site states the following in regard to obesity and the workplace:

  • Employers are impacted by obesity because of increased healthcare costs, absenteeism and workers compensation, which can often be associated with obesity. Companies should provide comprehensive obesity prevention and treatment programs for their employees and employ incentive programs (such as discounted health club memberships, availability of healthier food choices at work, etc.) where possible.
  • While incentive programs should be encouraged, we believe that punitive measures (higher premiums, penalties for non-participation, etc.) should not be utilized as a catalyst for individuals to address their obesity. Further stigmatization and penalization of this population often elicits a response counter to the goal of the original penalty.

In 2011, the OAC launched a new initiative, entitled “Bias Busters,” which aims to combat weight bias throughout society, including settings such as healthcare, employment, pop culture, the media and more. To date, “Bias Busters” has taken on weight bias issues with Facebook, Entertainment Tonight and others. “’Bias Busters’ has proven to be an effective initiative to address weight bias. It was an OAC member who originally alerted us to Citizens Medical Center’s BMI policy. We are very thankful that OAC leadership was able to effectively assist in the removal of the policy in a timely manner,” said Pam Davis, RN, BSN, CBN, OAC Chairman.

For more information on the OAC’s “Bias Busters,” please visit www.obesityaction.org/weight-bias-and-stigma/bias-busters. If you know of a weight bias issue that you would like the OAC to review, please email biasbusters@obesityaction.org.

The OAC is a National nonprofit charity dedicated to helping individuals affected by obesity. The OAC was formed to bring together individuals struggling with weight issues and provide educational resources and advocacy tools.

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