Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I do not understand...

...how basing hiring decisions on BMI isn't considered job discrimination. Straight-up, sparkling-clear, take-it-to-the-nine-choir-robes-in-DC, precedent-setting, EEOC-you-mofos, job discrimination.

This article is about a woman, Lynae Remondino, who interviewed with Weight Watchers for a training position this month and was told, after she reluctantly gave the WW rep her height and weight, that she was being excused from the interview process. They didn't want her, based on her BMI; not even her doctor-calculated BMI--the one Weight Watchers figured out for her using her height and weight. Over the phone.

Inasmuch as BMI gives you any real information about an individual (people of very average size are considered overweight in BMI-land--Remondino is apparently a size 12), it didn't tell WW anything in this case about whether she could do the job in question. She was applying for a training position, in a field in which she had experience; it told them how she looked. Or so they decided. Which is--which embodies--discrimination. I am guessing WW would say that it doesn't "project the right image" to "inspire staff" if the person in question is fat ("fat"). But does BMI have anything, anything, to do with whether or not somebody can do the job in this case? The kicker: Remondino had lost over 100 pounds (partially) on WW over five years ago and kept it off. For which WW ought to have been down on their knees and thanking god.

In June, this woman, Lisa Bonifas, was fired from her job at a public library in Iowa for refusing to list her weight on her employee badge. The city where she worked began requiring the information based on police/FEMA recommendations about disaster management. In this case the issue was information disclosure, and Iowa is a right-to-work state, which means they can fire for any reason "except discrimination." Which means race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. But not BMI--yet.

Thanks to Marilyn Wann and Mark Athitakis for for the links.

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