Court Rules Pizza Company Must Pay for Employee’s Weight Loss Surgery
The ever expanding waistlines of Americans has us facing medical issues we’ve never even had to think about before. Remember this story about ambulances having to charge morbidly obese patients extra to be transported? Well, here’s another one.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, a court ruled that a pizza shop must pay for a 340-pound employee’s weight-loss surgery to ensure the success of a back surgery for an injury he suffered on the job.
Adam Childers, who was 25 at the time, and weighed in at 340 pounds in March 2007 when he sustained a back injury after accidentally being struck by a freezer door. Doctors said he needed surgery to eliminate his severe back pain, but in order for the surgery to be effective, he must first have lap band surgery to lose weight.
His employers, Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza, agreed to pay for the back surgery, but argued they were not responsible for the weight-loss operation, which can cost up to $25,000, because Childers was already obese before the accident.
The court, however, said the surgery and disability payments were covered because his weight and the accident had combined to create a single injury.
This isn’t the first case like this. Recently, in Oregon, the state’s Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 27 that the state workers’ compensation insurance must pay for gastric bypass surgery to help a man lose weight in order for his knee replacement surgery to be effective.
These types of rulings have business’s getting squeamish, and many believe this will lead to companies being more careful about hiring employees with certain health conditions, which may set them up to pay big bucks down the road.
It’s a tough one: every employee deserves to be protected, regardless of their weight, but should a company be responsible to rectify a pre-existing condition they have no control over? Would we even be having this discussion if obesity weren’t socially considered “a choice”? Obesity is something that can be controlled through lifestyle, but it takes time, and no one is disputing the fact Childers has a legitimate back injury. What do you guys think? Did the court make the right choice?