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Obesity in the Workplace (Business Ethics)

Obesity is identified as a risk factor in many illnesses. Some claim that Work, Obesity and Health are intertwined. About 25% of Americans are classified as "obese" and indeed the category of "overweight" adds another 35% to that number. Add those two numbers up, and you find that about 60% of Americans are "overweight" As more and more employers provide wellness programs in the workplace, the issues of personal choices outside the workplace, employer insurance costs, personal insurance costs, and voluntary vs. mandatory participation in wellness programs arise. Of course, an underlying assumption is that it is not okay to be overweight, and everyone needs to do something about it- especially with the unrelenting rise in health care costs. In recent trends, some companies, particularly in health care, won't hire someone who smokes tobacco, a legal product. Should companies be allowed to take the same approach to the overweight? Should companies make participation in a wellness program for the overweight (obese) mandatory?

Do you think an overweight employee who chooses not to participate in a wellness program should be penalized?

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Should companies be allowed to take the same approach to the overweight?

Liability is always a central issue when dealing with topics such as these, that include overweight or obese individuals. One of the main problems is that there are no clear cut, federally imposed laws regarding weight discrimination. Generally, the employer must prove that weight directly relates to the performance on job duties, or else it becomes a liability. Airlines have weight requirements for flight attendants, and various companies have weight requirements for models, so that the models can fit properly into the appropriate sized clothing. Whether their weight standards are reasonable ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a comprehensive discussion regarding obesity in the workplace. Specifically, we look at any consequences that should or should not be imposed on obese or overweight employees that do not desire to participate in company sponsored wellness programs.