BMI: An Imperfect Recruiting Tool

January 20, 2011 – In The News
Human Resource Executive Online

As obesity rates have climbed throughout the nation and wellness programs have thrived, the body mass index (BMI) has emerged as a widely used tool for determining employees’ health. Some caution against this practice and advise companies to avoid using it employment decisions.

“It can land employers in legal trouble,” says Ian Meklinsky. “It is not a smart move by employers to have an employee’s or job applicant’s BMI be the fundamental issue.” Meklinsky says the sole purpose of a physical exam should be to determine whether the person is physically capable of performing the job. Employers may also get into trouble in states where the legal definition of disability is broader than the federal government’s. “In New Jersey, for example, obesity is viewed as a handicap under the state’s antidiscrimination law,” says Meklinsky.

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