Employees getting fired for smoking or being obese

So imagine you are the owner of a company. You have many employees of all different kinds. Some of these employees are more productive than others. Some cost you more money than others. Shouldn’t you be allowed to get rid of the employees who cost you more than they are worth? Shouldn’t you be allowed to hire or fire anyone you want for any position for any reason? This is the freedom you have as a business-person.

Now, things get hairy if someone tries to be racist, sexist, anti-semitic, ageist, etc. A woman with more experience gets paid less than a man in the same position. An African American is hired for a position instead of a more qualified Caucasian. An old person is fired right as they are about to earn their pension to be replaced by a younger person. These are the kinds of discrimination that we need to outlaw.

Why? For two reasons. First, it is unfair to make hiring decisions based on criteria that people can not control. A Hispanic can not become black. A woman can not become a man (surgery will most likely lead to worse discrimination). Second, these are not criteria that have any effect on job performance. There is nothing about race or gender that will affect your job performance. Two people of different genders and races with equivalent education and experience will both be equally good at any particular position, as far as an employer knows. To make your decision based on those factors is just plain wrong.

Smoking is a completely different story. A smoker is very likely to take many smoking breaks. This will reduce the amount of time they spend doing what you are paying them to do, which is work. If you ban smoking breaks, they will probably become very upset while unable to smoke, and will not be able to concentrate on their work. Oh, and people smoking outside your building is more likely to piss off your non-smoking employees who have to deal with secondhand smoke as they enter and exit. Oh, the increased risk of fire, and increased insurance costs count for something too. Oh, and since they are a smoker, you can’t count on this person to be a long-term employee.

Smoking is a decision that people make. They choose, willingly, to make themselves worth less as employees. They let the whole world know that they lack will power and good judgment skills. Not only should employers be allowed to discriminate against such people, they would be stupid not to.

Now let’s look at the obese people. For a moment, let us forget about people with thyroid problems. They are incredibly rare, and they can bring a doctor’s note to their employer to avoid discrimination. When I say obese people, I mean people who are so fat that it interferes with their everyday lives. We’re talking about people who need special, expensive, seating. We’re talking about people with fat fingers who might need to type on their keyboard and telephone with a pencil. We’re talking about people who can’t walk at an average speed. My friend, once, literally could not get down a hallway at work because an obese person was as wide as the hall. Also, the insurance costs and the poor likelihood that this person will serve you in the long term. It’s much easier to justify spending money to train someone who is likely to be an employee for many years, than it is for someone who is likely to have a heart attack tomorrow.

Obesity is a decision that people make. It may not be a fully conscious decision, like smoking is originally. However, it is clearly the result of a lack of will power in the vast majority of cases. A person is just unable to will themselves into eating less and working out more. If a person has so little control over their body that they can’t stop eating, and they can’t force themselves to work out on a regular schedule, how can you expect that person to force themselves to do the work you assign them? Heck, with the problems of an obese person, how can you expect them to show up to work every day?

It all boils down to one thing. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we should judge people by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. If smoking and obesity are not representative of the negative content of one’s character, then what is? What does it say about someone when they choose to smoke? What does it say about someone when they can’t control themselves enough to not be obese? It is fair to discriminate against them because they can always quit smoking or lose weight. With more potential employees than open positions, it would be in the best interest of any employers to start taking such factors into consideration for their employee hiring and firing procedures.

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3 Responses to Employees getting fired for smoking or being obese

  1. Jorge says:

    This is the most negative and stupid opinion I’ve ever read !

    You can’t judge a person negatively because he/she smokes, drinks wine, has bad taste or can not avoid to be fat. I know a lot of fat persons which are happy and more competent than few super models !

  2. Juni B says:

    You are a typical a-hole. On a day to day basis I see women at work who do little more then browse facebook and smile and take notes. But you know what the boss puts up with it, because she is thin and looks good at trade shows.

    I and other women who are over 40 bust our butt. I do take thyroid medicine and I have had 3 children. I use to be the one who could get away with anything, but I never let men use me in that way. I still worked hard. You are saying that being Obsese is a sign of lack of will power. Bull—-!!!! Many people including my sister eats candy and sweets on a regular basis or she looses too much weight. I don’t always eat perfect, but I am sick of people thinking that because someone is obese they stuff a dozen donuts in their mouth. That is simply not true. Some people are also more prone to be larger. A blood test will tell you a lot more about a person’s health then just looking at their weight.

    The truth is some people no matter what they eat will always be thin, but not necessarily healthy. My ex-husband just passed away at about a 125 pounds and Five foor five inches tall. He had clogged arteries. He took after his Grandmother who was a stick, but he was not healthy. People who judge people because they are obese shows me a lot about their character. You are probably a narcissitic male whore. (Oh sorry am I stereotyping) I am the top salesperson at my company and it has nothing to do with my figure. I am not the expection to the rule. You are just rude.

  3. Chris says:

    This is the MOST ridiculous article I have EVER read. I never comment on articles like this that I come across, but this one, I had to make a few comments on. First off, I am a smoker. “A smoker is very likely to take many smoking breaks. This will reduce the amount of time they spend doing what you are paying them to do, which is work.” When I put my 8 hours in, along with my co-workers, we have two 15-minute paid breaks and a 35-minute non-paid lunch break. The only smoke breaks we take, are the breaks listed above. If you don’t allow people to go out 15-20 times a day to smoke, they most likely won’t as long as they are still allowed to smoke at work on their given breaks. I, personally, am conscious of other people when I smoke. I don’t go stand right beside the door and blow smoke in peoples face when they walk in or out the door. I go to my car and sit until I’m done then return inside and am conscious of my breath and clothes and take care of both with gum or mints and some kind of body spray. Employers should make these areas that are frequented a lot non-smoking areas, like that are at my place of employment. Problem solved. Where do you get that a smoker will not be a long term employee? For example, my grandfather worked at his place of employment for over 30 years! Also, my father has worked at his place of employment for over 15 years now. Both are smokers. That is pretty long term if you ask me.

    Secondly, obesity is not always a personal choice. Yes, people do tend to eat wrong and overeat, and those that do pay the price by being overweight. Peoples metabolism has a big factor in weight. Someone that has a cheeseburger for lunch with a high metabolism will burn that cheeseburger off a lot quicker than someone with a low metabolism. How does that rectify discriminating said person? I know A LOT of overweight people that work just as hard if not harder than skinny people. Yes, I will agree that some heavy people are lazy, but that doesn’t mean all are. People have to provide references at most companies when applying, so the employer should follow up on those and see how the person works based on past jobs, not by their weight. Since that is what references are given for. I think you just need to get off your high horse and take a seat and sit and think about the women that gain 90 odd pounds during pregnancy or those that are genetically obese and tell them they have no will power. And that they chose to be obese. And they have a worse work performance than people that are skinny. Then come back and write another article about that.

    Sincerely yours,
    -Chris

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