Can you enforce weight limits on employees as a condition of employment?

Over time I’ve noticed that a a good percentage of the female nursing personnel I see in doctors offers are quite overweight. Some hugely so. Would it be legal if a doctor (for whatever reason) put weight limits (relative to height) on how much their nursing personnel could weigh or is this considered discriminatory in some fashion?

Why would anyone care, as long as they can do the job?

Eva Luna, we’ve already seen some companies require their employees to be nonsmokers, presumably for the insurance savings. It’s not totally unreasonable to claim that the employees of the health industry set a good example. I agree that it’s a foolish and probably mean-spirited thing to do, though.

I don’t believe that such an employment restriction would be illegal, as overweight people are not a protected class, unless you ran afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wait, what? Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but it almost sounds as though you’d prefer it if there was a weight limit on females in the health care profession. o_o;

Isn’t there something like this for airplane crews?

So tell us why you hate women so much

I’ve wondered the same thing. All the reception staff, except for one guy, and a good amount of the nurses, PA’s, lab staff, etc. at my clinic are much to heavy. The receptionists are also always eating candy or chips at their desks. I think that it is an important issue for people in the medical field because they should be role models for healthy lifestyles. If I were managing my clinic office, I would prohibit food at desks period and institute physical fitness evaluations similar to what police and fire personnel have to do (without so much fire and carrying people and shooting at things) and rate employees every year on their physical fitness as part of a yearly review. Employees performing poorly could have special duties, like delivering paperwork around the office and restocking supplies in the exam rooms. Either that or institute morning stretching like some Japanese corporations do.

It is an important issue for other professions because healthy employees are productive employees. A woman that works in my building will flat out not do certain things that require lifting or moving or walking down the hall (like checking her mailbox) so she pawns her work off onto other people and sits in her office and snacks all day. Not only is she not productive, but she reduces the productivity of other people.

Actually, I think I’ve heard that too. It sort of makes sense, I guess. Like, a person who weighs 300lbs might have a harder time walking up and down the aisles. =\

That is a work ethic problem, not a weight problem.

Do RNs have to be height/weight proportionate or just LVNs? Are CNAs exempt? How about non-licensed staff? Do the MDs aand PAs need to comply to body fat ratio restrictions, too?
Cyn, RN who is overweight but not hugely so. I think. Maybe I am and need **Astro’s ** judgement call to see if I am fit enough to hold my license.

You may wish to note that at least locally most fire stations have a small workout area as part of the station and it is a scheduled part of their day if calls do not interrupt it.

I’m only about 10 pounds overweight. Is my job in danger?

I actually do work in a Dr’s office. Out of a staff of 25, we only have three that would qualify as obese. If one were to force their staff to be physically fit, they might not be sucessfully sued, but they would have one hell of a turnaround in employees. My office can’t keep front desk/phone people as it is!

But then I work in a dermatology office, so maybe my bosses should expect their staff to have super-clean, zit-free skin. Anything else isn’t very motivating to our patients, now is it??


I saw a story last week about weight standards being enforced in one line of work. I framed an objective question wondering about the limits how far an employer is allowed to go in dictating personnel appearance standards, and used nursing personnel as an example of one possible scenario in this context where I’ve noticed a fair percentage of overweight personnel. How this question = “women hate” is somewhat mysterious to me.

But isn’t that the point? Police and fire personnel need to be fit because they will need to put out fires, rescue/carry people, pursue people on foot and shoot at things.

They’re not required to be fit because they’re role models. They’re required to be fit so they can do their job.

Same with flight attendants. They need to be able to do their job, which involves working in close quarters, especially if there’s the possibility of their needing to help passengers in an emergency.

In Nevada, where I live, casinos can and have successfully required certain of their employees to weigh under a certain amount for purely cosmetic reasons - mostly female bartenders and cocktail waitresses. You will never see a fat cocktail waitress.

I dunno about nursing, though. I can see where it would be bad to have an overweight nurse doing a body fat analysis on someone else who’s medically obese. Not a good example.

On the other hand, if said medical office was willing to PAY for the woman to get into shape (gym membership, diet program, et cetera) I, as a fat person, don’t think I’d be too terribly offended, especially if they made it seem like they were worried about my health and not appearances.


I gotta agree with Astro here. Why the hell did he get thrown under a bus for asking an objective question?? :confused:

Well, no, it’s not.

When I went to the dermatologist to treat my acne at 17 I remember the (female) doctor had the smoothest, softest, most illustrious skin I’ve ever seen and touched (I shook her hand - what were you thinking?).

I certainly wouldn’t have felt as good about going to her if her skin was nasty. It would be like going to a lawyer who double-parks his Lexus out front and steals my lunch money (OK, maybe this is a terrible example, but they need to at least swindle me out of my lunch money legally for me to be happy about it), or an interior designer who’s office is trashy and ugly.

Interesting question, and one that obviously makes people react.

On the one hand, I can see the validity in the argument that it is none of my business how fit and healthy the staff at my physician’s office are. How much a person weighs doesn’t impact their ability to set appointments or correctly bill my insurance company or take my blood pressure.

On the other hand, at one point does it become an issue of “do as I say and not as I do”? If my doctor were talking to me about cardiac health and how heart disease is the number one killer of women, but I could see a pack of smokes peeking out from her pocket…well, it would be harder to consider her credible even if I know her advice on my own health is sound.

Maybe this is an unpopular thing to admit, but I do make judgments. I’m not saying that everyone must be perfect (and who would be the arbiter there anyhow?), but if I go to my dentist’s office and his receptionist has 6 rotten, brown teeth in his or her head, I’m at least going to mentally raise an eyebrow. Would I turn right around and leave? No, I wouldn’t, but I would puzzle about it on my own. Sure, maybe the receptionist is saving for dental treatments, or whatever, but the irony of it would get to me. If I go to see a nutritionist for advice on a weight loss plan, and the staff are all overweight, again, it would raise a red flag to me. My judgments might actually be more like questions and ideas that I wish to get more input on, but they are there.

I used to work in health care, I was an EMT and spent a lot of time in and around hospitals, after-care, dialysis, out-patient and other clinics. I actually do agree with the Op’er that it appears to me that there are an unusually high number of bigger men and women in that profession.

But man, what the fuck. I eat out of stress, I’m Level 1 Obese myself, according to the Dr. Would I rather have a flawlessly svelte phlebotomist who cannot do a good stick or a big gal who threads that puppy into me like buttah ? What would YOU rather have? Medical technique almost always has nothing to do with the physical conditioning of the person applying said technique. ( Some situations clearly have a corollary. If you’re morbidly obese, it’s kind of hard to become a Neurosurgeon and stand routinely for 4-10 hours in the OR, no matter how deft your scalpel is ).

It is none of my business if my cardiologist smokes, as long as A) I don’t smell it on her, and B) She doesn’t advocate that I take it up !

It is also true that two factors contribute to this impression.

  1. The scrubs/work outfits are generally more clingy than other professional outfits that folks might wear. Hence, things are more visible and obvious.

  2. In the medical profession, in doing their job, the professional is in must closer physical proximity than in almost any other business on the planet. The laying on of hands requires being within a foot or less sometimes. One is more aware of someone’s body when they are 12 inches away.

I do think it says something about anyone who lashes out at the OP’er for citing an outside article/study as the basis for this thread and calls him a woman hater or large person hater. The OP was not worded in an attacking way one bit, from where I sit and I’m pretty big.


My guess is that receptionists in general tend to be more obese, for the simple reason that they have sedentary jobs. Computer Programmers and other desk jockeys have the same problem.

You burn a lot of calories just walking around. People who just sit at a desk all day are at a significant disadvantage with respect to calorie burn than are people who spend their days on their feet.