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Not Hiring Obese People or Smokers Florida

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  • Not Hiring Obese People or Smokers Florida

    Can someone please give me more info. on what the law (if any) states about employers not hiring obese people or smokers?

    Are there any ADA violations if we, as an employer, decide not to hire someone because they are obese and could potentially drive up our healthcare costs?

    I have heard of companies that refuse to hire smokers, but is there verbiage or something employers are required to state in policy or in the application if they do not wish to hire smokers?

    Thanks as always.

  • #2
    There are a few states that cover weight as a protected class (michigan is one, Washington DC is another), but I don't think Florida does. And only a few other states define obesity as a disabling condition. Most courts have upheld that obesity is a voluntary condition.

    However, I would not want to be on the wrong end of a court case regarding ADA and obesity. Because just by looking at an applicant, you can't know whether the obesity is related to a covered disability or not.

    Honestly, I would rather not hire a person because they can not do the essential functions of the job, rather than whether they were obese. It should really only be a very small part of a hiring decision. Because there are lots of other things that drive up healthcare costs. Even the skinniest employee could cost you $100s of $1000s of healthcare dollars if they don't take care of themselves or have any debilitating condition -- like Krohn's Disease.

    I do know of companies that have either a discount or a surcharge on medical premiums for obesity or smoking. Again, though, you have to look back to state laws to see if they are protected since they are not federally protected rights.

    eta: the new Amendments to the ADA might have changed the definition of disability to possibly include obesity -- not enough info yet out of the EEOC or courts to know for sure.....I wouldn't chance it. And from what I am reading online, these types of claims are on the rise.
    Last edited by hr for me; 09-02-2009, 10:58 AM.

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    • #3
      Smokers are also in a protected category in some states though not Fl. per my most recent reference.
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