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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Our company is located in California. We just hired an outside

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Our company is located in California. We just hired an outside Sales rep, his reference came back glowing but he is about 25 lbs overweight. The owner who use to be an outside sales rep now feel that he need to tell this employee that he needs to lose 25lbs. He wants to get him on our Kaiser plan soon so the he start a program. We really don't know anything about him other than he has great sales skills and I really don't want to know anything about his health, family, etc. The owner said he really feels that this employee needs to lose the weighr in order to represent the company. Can you please provide me with a something that I can show him in writing so that he will back off. I don't want this to turn into a lawsuit.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

Provided that weight loss is not a "legitimate business necessity," (i.e. a modeling agency that needs people to be thin), a demand that an employee lose weight to improve the image of a company potentially runs afoul of the Americans With Disabilities Act and also potentially the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with qualifying disabilities or making inquiries regarding an employee's health conditions unless the employee requests reasonable accommodations for their health problem (i.e. if an employee has arthritis and requests a chair to perform their work seated, their employer can inquire about their arthritis to verify the necessity of the chair).

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you don't know why this employee is overweight--they may be diabetic or have other serious health problems that are the root cause of their obesity. Requiring an employee to lose weight or firing him for being overweight would potentially constitute disability-related discrimination, or at the very least, an unfounded inquiry into an employee's underlying medical condition in violation of the ADA.

If this employee's heaviness correlates to their race (i.e. they are of an ethnicity that traditionally has a higher BMI), a demand that they lose weight or risk termination may constitute racial discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that there are a variety of ways in which a demand an employee lose weight, absent a legitimate and compelling business necessity to do so, would violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Accordingly, making such demand would be unwise, as it creates a liability exposure for the employer.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Very best wishes to you.
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