“Forced to be Fit,” which some may have caught on the CBS Evening News last night, tells the story of the Benton County, Arkansas’ fight against fat. This isn’t your traditional fight against fat e.g. America’s Biggest Loser or Lighten Up Iowa. In this story the pressure to lose weight comes from the employer. Research shows that obese employees cost employers more in health insurance and worker’s compensation. Some employers are transferring this extra cost to the employee, while others are providing incentives to the employees for losing weight. Others have only gone so far as to provide fitness facilities to encourage weight loss.

It’s clear that this issue will become more prevalent in the future.  Currently, obesity itself is not a protected class.  However, in certain limited circumstances, it may be considered a disability under the American with Disability Act.  Therefore, it’s important to tred carefully when dealing with employees that are considered obese.

Photo on flickr by fanboy30