• 04-03-2009
    Len J
    ADA & doing the right thing.
    One of the people working for me has an individual working for him that is overweight. He is large enough that the airlines requires him to buy 2 seats when he travels. Good guy, just overweight. Not a great performer but OK. It's a small department so, with the economy like it is, if we had to cut IT staff, he would be a strong possibility.

    So we sat down with HR to try to put some resources together to try to support the guy in losing weight and improving his health.

    It turns out that if we bring up the subject to him as his employer, he is automaticially protected under the ADA (Amerians with Disability Act) as Obesity can be considered a disability.....which reduces our ability to potentially do the right things for the business should it be necessary. In effect, we would have to get rid of a much better performing indivdual who has been with the company longer before we could terminate him.

    So we are faced with 2 choices.............

    - activly help the indivdual lose weight and potentially hurt the business (& impact the other 140 employees) or;
    - ignore the issue (unless he brings it up) & not put the business at risk.

    So what would you suggest?

    Len
  • 04-03-2009
    Dwayne Barry
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Len J
    activly help the indivdual lose weight and potentially hurt the business (& impact the other 140 employees)

    I'll offer no opinion but you should be aware that long-term successful significant weight loss is extremely hard to achieve (without surgery), very few people (~10%) who want to do it are actually successful. Biologically whatever has contributed to this guy getting that obese isn't going to change even if he buys into the suggested idea of losing weight.
  • 04-03-2009
    shawndoggy
    In either case (you lend a hand / you don't), the decision over whether he seeks accomodation for discriminatory conduct is his, right? Meaning, you can lend him a hand, then still fire him and nothing can come of it. The issue is just that if he does get litigious, he's got an arrow in his quiver because you called him out as fat and then fired him.

    But doesn't the burden still lie with him to prove you fired him because he's fat vs because he's the low performer?

    I'd help him but also document his performance. Presumably there's a history of pre-help documentation of underperformance as well.
  • 04-03-2009
    shawndoggy
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dwayne Barry
    Biologically whatever has contributed to this guy getting that obese isn't going to change even if he buys into the suggested idea of losing weight.

    What biologically causes Americans to have this issue at disproportionate rates?
  • 04-03-2009
    thatsmybush
    I think the individual knows he is fat...and if he cared about that he would lose weight.
  • 04-03-2009
    tomk96
    if i was in your shoes, i'd keep quiet. if things turn around for the economy and he is not the prime candidate on the cutting block, maybe think about it then. it's not like he doesn't know he's not fat. if you ever here him talking about him trying to lose weight, i would think that would open the door for you to help without as much concern.
  • 04-03-2009
    shawndoggy
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thatsmybush
    I think the individual knows he is fat...and if he cared about that he would lose weight.

    If caring about it were all it took we'd have world peace and a balanced budget.
  • 04-03-2009
    thatsmybush
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by shawndoggy
    If caring about it were all it took we'd have world peace and a balanced budget.

    Losing weight and world peace are different. To lose weight--you have to care--for world peace--everyone does.

    /I used to be pretty fat.
  • 04-03-2009
    Dwayne Barry
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by shawndoggy
    What biologically causes Americans to have this issue at disproportionate rates?

    Human populations around the world probably have them (the "thrifty-gene" hypothesis or theory) to one degree or another, but less likely to see in a normal environment. It is the extreme American obesogenic environment that has led to so many obese people, the question is how come all of us aren't obese or why are only certain people getting obese?

    There are probably several genotypes that contribute to obesity e.g. it is fairly well established that many obese persons are far more likely to have inappropriate hormone signals indicating their energy state. IOW, they eat more because the hormones that should signal that they are satiated are dysfunctional at some level, so they are hungry and keep eating whereas your skinny person gets the appropriate signals and is not hungry.
  • 04-03-2009
    Dwayne Barry
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thatsmybush
    I think the individual knows he is fat...and if he cared about that he would lose weight.

    Except for the fact that if you look at people who do care about it and takes steps to achieve it, in the long run the vast majority are unsuccesful and not because they cease desiring to not be fat, and at the other end many people maintain a normal bodyweight without any effort at all. It's far more complicated than caring or not caring.
  • 04-03-2009
    buck-50
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thatsmybush
    I think the individual knows he is fat...and if he cared about that he would lose weight.

    Not 'xactly...

    You can care, it can make you miserable, you can want to lose weight, you can dream about being thin, but it takes a lot more than caring to lose weight. Trust me on this one.
  • 04-03-2009
    thatsmybush
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by buck-50
    Not 'xactly...

    You can care, it can make you miserable, you can want to lose weight, you can dream about being thin, but it takes a lot more than caring to lose weight. Trust me on this one.

    I only have myself as a guide and dropping the donut and not picking it back up was what if took for me to get control. From large to triathlete and marathoner. I can empathize with folks who struggle I did--but just because it is hard doesn't mean that you can say it isn't your responsibility...it is the ultimate in personal responsibility--it is your body.
  • 04-03-2009
    mmoose
    Cutting based on weight, impossible. Ignore it and let it be. But that's not really what you were after, right?

    Do what most big companies do nowadays...give the guy an impossible task, or too many tasks or otherwise unreachable expectations. Then, in six months, of course it's a performance issue.

    /works with someone 'categorized' by the airlines as the same
    //I have depression, could benefit from similar type circumstances, won't.
  • 04-03-2009
    JayTee
    You all are getting bad legal advice if someone is telling you that obesity per se is protected by the ADA. That being said, if the obesity is a side effect of medication or other medical condition, then it is possible. But the ADA is actually a very narrow statute, public understanding to the contrary notwithstanding.
  • 04-03-2009
    Dwayne Barry
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thatsmybush
    I did--but just because it is hard doesn't mean that you can say it isn't your responsibility...it is the ultimate in personal responsibility--it is your body.

    I don't think just because there seems to be pretty clearly established genetic component to obesity that it absolves a person of responsibility to try to change the situation. Simple fact is, though, the amount of effort required to change is going to vary greatly across the population and in the end be unsuccessful for many people.

    On a personal aside my two kids, so same environment, display completely different desires for food. My 6 yr old son is clearly fixated on food, always wants more, if something he likes huffs it down in minutes, and not suprisingly since an infant has been in the at-risk of obesity BMI category. Three year old daughter shows no intense interest in food, will often leave food unfinished even if something she likes, and not surprisingly is solidly down in the normal range of BMI.

    Personally, I know if I don't have a reason to be lean for racing my weight creeps up. Outside the competition motivation I'd probably be in the overweight BMI category even if I know healthwise I shouldn't be. I know I have to go mighty hungry, lots of time when I want to lose weight.
  • 04-03-2009
    DrRoebuck
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Len J
    So we are faced with 2 choices.............

    - activly help the indivdual lose weight and potentially hurt the business (& impact the other 140 employees) or;
    - ignore the issue (unless he brings it up) & not put the business at risk.

    So what would you suggest?

    A third option would be to implement some programs company-wide, thereby not singling him out.

    If that's not an option, then it's not your responsibility to make him healthier. If you feel it jeopardizes your business you shouldn't do it.
  • 04-03-2009
    buck-50
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thatsmybush
    I only have myself as a guide and dropping the donut and not picking it back up was what if took for me to get control. From large to triathlete and marathoner. I can empathize with folks who struggle I did--but just because it is hard doesn't mean that you can say it isn't your responsibility...it is the ultimate in personal responsibility--it is your body.

    Totally. I'm just saying it takes more than caring.

    If caring was all it took, I'd not have to worry about the 15+ pounds I've put on since my daughter was born... If I could just get my inner drill Sargent back, I'd be doing great, but that little sum***** has been MIA for 2 years now...
  • 04-03-2009
    rocco
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DrRoebuck
    A third option would be to implement some programs company-wide, thereby not singling him out.


    I tend to agree as long it's limited to encouraging people; beyond that I say live and let live.
  • 04-03-2009
    KenB
    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Putting 140 employees at risk to help one guy loose weight is unconscionable to me.



    /I'm entirely insensitive to being fat. Drop the damned donut.
  • 04-03-2009
    thatsmybush
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KenB
    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Putting 140 employees at risk to help one guy loose weight is unconscionable to me.



    /I'm entirely insensitive to being fat. Drop the damned donut.

    And how could you have sensitivity to it...it is--illogical.

    /live long and prosper.
  • 04-03-2009
    Mel Erickson
    It's a worldwide problem. Obesity in China has taken off like a rocket. It's directly tied to the availability of cheap high calorie food. There was a guy on public radio a couple of months ago that made a very powerful argument on this very topic. Humans are not genetically programmed to become obese. We just eat more calories than we should.
  • 04-03-2009
    Mel Erickson
    I don't buy the strong genetic link to obesity. That would mean that over the course of just a couple of generations we developed a genetic disposition for obesity. Cause, just a couple of generations ago obesity was not a problem, here and elsewhere. Wish I could remember the gentlemans name that was on public radio talking about this. He was very convincing and had great info to back him up, too.
  • 04-03-2009
    Mel Erickson
    I'm not getting how 140 employees would be put at risk. Splain please.
  • 04-03-2009
    mbaha
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Len J
    One of the people working for me has an individual working for him that is overweight. He is large enough that the airlines requires him to buy 2 seats when he travels. Good guy, just overweight. Not a great performer but OK. It's a small department so, with the economy like it is, if we had to cut IT staff, he would be a strong possibility.

    So we sat down with HR to try to put some resources together to try to support the guy in losing weight and improving his health.

    It turns out that if we bring up the subject to him as his employer, he is automaticially protected under the ADA (Amerians with Disability Act) as Obesity can be considered a disability.....which reduces our ability to potentially do the right things for the business should it be necessary. In effect, we would have to get rid of a much better performing indivdual who has been with the company longer before we could terminate him.

    So we are faced with 2 choices.............

    - activly help the indivdual lose weight and potentially hurt the business (& impact the other 140 employees) or;
    - ignore the issue (unless he brings it up) & not put the business at risk.

    So what would you suggest?

    Len

    I would not approach chunker and tell him to put the fork down, that is just asking for a law suit. If you want said eater post some flyers in the break room or something.

    Now if you need to lay someone off it should be the one who is not pulling their mass.
  • 04-03-2009
    Dwayne Barry
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mel Erickson
    I don't buy the strong genetic link to obesity. That would mean that over the course of just a couple of generations we developed a genetic disposition for obesity. Cause, just a couple of generations ago obesity was not a problem, here and elsewhere. Wish I could remember the gentlemans name that was on public radio talking about this. He was very convincing and had great info to back him up, too.

    First the genetic component to obesity is fairly well established across mutiple areas. Most obvious in the various obese rat and other animal strains that have been bred and are available for study but also demonstrated in human studies.

    Think of this way. Let's for arguement's sake say there is a very strong genetic component to developing skin cancer in response to sunlight. Would you expect to see a lot of skin cancer in a population that habitually was well-clothed and worked mostly inside? No. Do you think those rates would change if lets say, the population went from being factory workers to farmhands and the cultural norm changed to going shirtless rather than well-clothed at work and sunbathing in one's recreation time became popular. Could you then detect the genetic predisposition to developing skin cancer that otherwise was hidden because almost no one got skin cancer?

    That's essentially what has happened. There has probably been a genetic predisposition to obesity (or at least energy storage) throughout our evolutionary history as a favorable trait to combat starvation. What has changed is that we now burn relatively few calories going about our daily business and we have dense-calorie, tasty foods readily available. IOW, the environment has changed such that obesity can readily express itself. It makes perfect sense that those with a genetic predisposition would be most "at-risk" in this changed environment. It only takes a slight energy imbalance to get fat (500kcal a day extra would result ~50lbs a year weight gain).