Overweight workers.

Sarah - posted on 11/21/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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What do you guys think should happen when a person's weight interferes with their ability to do their job?

For example, if you are working in a supermarket or something stacking shelves, and you're required to lift quite heavy boxes, or fill the bottom shelves, do you think it's fair for overweight people to be able to get out of doing these aspects of their job as they struggle to do it?

Or what if they are often sick from work with weight related problems? I'm thinking maybe back pain as an example.

I'm also talking purely about people that have no medical reason for their weight.

I'm also not trying to pick on overweight people..........I'm just curious to know whether people find it a valid reason for not pulling their weight (no pun intended!) in the workplace.

Thoughts?

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Lacye - posted on 11/21/2011

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I'm fat, have always been a pretty good size girl, and probably always will be. Part of it is due to me having thyroid issues, part of it is because I like carrot cakes (a lot!) But I have never used my weight as an excuse to get out of doing my work. It's stupid. It's lazy. I believe if you don't want to do the work, you don't want the job.

Denikka - posted on 11/21/2011

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I don't think weight should be an excuse for not doing your job. If you are unable to do the job, you shouldn't be doing it. No matter what your reason is.
Just like I would think it's ridiculous for a person with known back problems to want to get hired at a furniture moving company. Or a blind person to want to get hired as a crossing guard. Or a person with no arms to want to get hired at a sandwich shop XD
There are just some things that people with physical limitations are unable to do, and they should realize that. I don't think that it's fair to go into a job, committing to do something that you can't actually do.

If I was the boss, I would give someone who was overweight the same consideration I would give any other person I employed. If you have too many sick days, you're fired. If you don't do the job I hired you for, you're fired. I don't care what the reason.
Obviously though, if this has been discussed before hand and the limitations are okayed, that's a different story. But then my expectations of that employee would be different from my other employees. It's still a matter of meeting the expectations that were laid out when you were hired.

Denikka - posted on 11/22/2011

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Like I mentioned earlier, I think it has more to do with the expectations that are made when a person gets hired for a job.

If a person is short, the employer knows that from day one. The know that they are going to have to make arrangements (like the stool) for that person. It's completely unreasonable, as an example, to expect a person who is 4'3" to be able to stack shelves that are over 6ft tall without some kind of assistance.

If you are hired for a specific job, you should be able to fulfill those duties.

A person who is vegan and gets sick at the sight of animal flesh should not work at a butchering plant. They shouldn't even apply!

A person who throws up and passes out at the sight of blood shouldn't work at a hospital.



If you apply for a job, to me, that says you are capable of doing what is required for the position. If you can't do what's required, then you should not be in that position.



It's a little different for someone who has put on massive amounts of weight over a period while working in a certain position. In that situation, I would try to be more accommodating. More specifically if they had been a hard working and a valuable asset, THEN I would be more accommodating. If they'd been a slacker from day one and done barely the minimum to get by, then I would be much less likely to try to help and work around the problem.



I feel the same way about any disability, especially the physical ones. There's a big different between having a problem when you start with the understand that certain things will have to be worked around. If the employer is aware of it and still wants to hire that person, fine. If a problem has come up and the worker is valuable enough to work with, then great.

But don't go into a situation saying that you are capable of doing something when you aren't. Be upfront about your limitations, and if they come up later, be upfront as things come up. And if you can't do what you were hired to do, then don't be surprised if you get fired. It is not the company's responsibility to bend over backwards to accommodate their employees when they are not able to do what they were hired to do. It's a choice if they want to rearrange things for that individual or not.

[deleted account]

Speaking as a person who was skinny most of her life then became obese after pregnancy (and never lost it, now can't), I can say with some degree of accuracy that if you use obesity as an excuse to get out of your work, then you're the kind of person who would use a different excuse to get out of work if you were skinny.

Jeannette - posted on 11/21/2011

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Carolee, that has been my experience. I started out with my company much lighter than I am now. My back went out for the first time 6 years after I became employed and now 7 years later, it still goes out AND my left hip has been giving me severe problems. When it's out, I cannot move and I have put on weight accordingly.
Also, I have joined a gym for 18 months. I had to stop working out because my lower spine cannot handle the pressure from me lifting the weights. I can go walking (when all is well) and my job consists of walking 5 days a week, but I have to walk above and beyond what my work day is to lose weight. I can still do my job, but I am terribly afraid. It is depressing when my back is out and I cannot move for weeks at a time. I have really dark days because I have been a physical worker and even in our vacations, I am very active.
I am hoping to find a new career after the first of the year so I can leave my job and start a walking regimen that does not involve me carrying anything.
I don't see how weight affects whether or not you can pick something up. I guess if you cannot bend down? I don't know because even with my weight gain I can still do a very physical job.

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Elizabeth - posted on 11/26/2011

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I don't even understand what there is to discuss. Any person who is hired for a particular job needs to be able to do that job. If a person is overweight or obese then the employer needs to be sure they can fulfill all of the duties involved in the job. If a person gains a large amount of weight and can no longer perform the job then they need to be reassessed or maybe let go. I am overweight but think anyone hired for a specific job needs to be able to do all parts of that job. Smokers shouldn't get any special consideration either. If the job normally provides 2 breaks and a lunchtime, then that's all a smoker should get.

Sarah - posted on 11/25/2011

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I guess the smoking thing depends where you work. I smoke, but I can't go off for a fag whenever I feel like one, I have a 15 minute break like everyone else and that's when I have a smoke.
My being a smoker doesn't affect my ability to do my job in the slightest.

Sal - posted on 11/24/2011

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the smoker doesn't actuallly have to physically smoke, the fatty is actually fat all the time

Robyn - posted on 11/24/2011

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A smoker cannot smoke?? Its an addiction, remember.



Fatty can lose weight & the smoker can quit.



Both take time.

Sal - posted on 11/23/2011

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anyone who cant do their job for anyreason should decide if the job is for them.....too short, too slight, too fat too old, not fit enough, have a med problem, breast feeding pregnant, they all fll into the same boat, it is great to say on paper that you can do anything you like, but you have to actually be able to do it...



what pisses me more is when you are the only non smoker on a team and always being left to wtch the counter answer the phone or hold the fort....a fatty cant not be fat for the day but a smoker can not smoke....

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/22/2011

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It makes sense, but if it was a risk to your health ie falling off the stool because you are on tiptoes with heavy items, they would prefer you didn't do it I am sure. With them bending over, they can cause knee and back injury, or just not be able to get up.

Sarah - posted on 11/22/2011

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I'm super short too!
I guess the thing with that is that although they do provide me with a stool to stand on, it's STILL harder for me to fill the top shelves than it is for a taller person.......but I still do it. If they have a harder time filling the bottom shelf because of their weight, then I still think they should do it to be honest. I wouldn't leave the whole top shelf for the next person, even though I struggle to do it. (if all that makes sense!)

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/22/2011

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I don't agree with your statement "if you use obesity as an excuse to get out of your work, then you're the kind of person who would use a different excuse to get out of work if you were skinny. "

If we are simply talking about lazy employees, that is one thing....but if we are talking about a morbidly obese individual that has difficulty bending down to tie his/her shoes, and is having a tough time bending over and stocking the bottom shelf, but is a hard worker otherwise...I don't see a problem with leniency, or finding an alternate job for them.

I am short,...like really short...it would be the same thing as them asking me to stock the very top shelf without a stool. I would not be able to reach.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/22/2011

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Hmmmm...,this makes me think that if a person is to obese to work, they might be on disability. I think that most people are hired to fit the job......the job is usually not tailored to the person unless you have special qualifications....usually that is not typical in blue collared work.

I can see an employer having the employee changing jobs within the company that would be more suitable to the employees capabilities....but I don't think employers would be so hasty to fired due to weight. That is blatant discrimination, and cause for a law suite.

Vicki - posted on 11/22/2011

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In the career I'm aiming for (paramedic) you have to have a healthy bmi or you don't get in. You can't avoid those aspects of the job - there are only two of you in a team so you both have to lift. There are some who have been in the job a long time and are overweight, but they still need to be able to lift. Those who can't get transferred to light duties.

Tracey - posted on 11/22/2011

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I wouldn't have a problem helping a co-worker who couldn't do part of a job for a while if for example they broke their arm but I would not be happy having to do that person's share of lifting / carrying etc every day just because they eat too much. What about my health that could be damaged by having to do someone else's job?
If you can't do part of the job for the long term change jobs.

Liz - posted on 11/21/2011

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I'm currently obese, though I'm working on changing that. I agree, however, that weight should not be an excuse for someone who is unable to do their job or who is needing to take frequent sickness absences because of weight related issues. In the UK, the legal term for what happens at that point is 'frustrated contract': you are unable to do what you are hired to do, though technically nobody is to blame.

Celeste - posted on 11/21/2011

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I agree, being overweight shouldn't exempt one from doing their job that they were hired to do. I would imagine that they were informed of their duties before they took the job.

Stifler's - posted on 11/21/2011

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No it isn't fair that they get out of work because they're overweight. Being 20kg overweight is a medical problem being 100kg over weight is an eating problem. People who have chronic back pain etc. are still expected to do their job or move on. Some jobs don't HAVE light duties to perform so why should employers cop that?

Carolee - posted on 11/21/2011

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Being overweight does not interfere with lifting stuff. Having weak muscles does. That can happen to fat or skinny people. Back pain also happens to thin people, and they have to miss work. Often times, it's the back pain that starts first, then the weight comes because the person is in too much pain to exercise like they used to. It takes a while to adjust eating habbits when you go from being able to exercise every day to not being able to do half of your typical routine.

That being said, I don't think anybody should get out of doing their jobs for any bullshit reason. Be up front with potential employers when you're hired. If you lie about what you are able to do, and are unable to do what you were hired for, you should be warned, suspended, then fired... regardless of weight. If something happens after you've been hired and working, then you need to let your employer know when you find your new limitations. If they are willing to work with you, that's great. If they are not, and can't fire you for becoming disabled, they will find a way to make your working life so miserable that you quit. Either way, if something does happen, and you can no longer do your job description, it's time to look for a new job that you can do.

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