San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Health matters

Refusing to hire obese man is not discrimination, Costa Rican court finds

Obesity can be cause not to hire someone, according to a recent ruling by the Costa Rican Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber, or Sala IV, ruled that the Costa Rican Social Security System, known as the Caja, did not unfairly discriminate against a job applicant because of his weight, according to a statement from the Constitutional Chamber.

The applicant was applying for a job as a driver with the Caja when he had to submit to a medical evaluation. The doctor who conducted the assessment determined that the man was “morbidly obese” and therefore not able to fulfill the job’s requirements. The applicant alleged that the decision was discriminatory because, though he was overweight, he did not have any illnesses.

The doctor’s evaluation said that the man’s physical condition meant that he was 18 times more likely to die than someone of a normal weight for his age and sex, according to the statement. She added that the applicant was more likely to come down with any of several illnesses, ranging from diabetes and cardiac problems to hormonal disfunction and psychological problems, among others.

The Sala IV fell back on the technical criteria of the job as described by the Caja. The driver job covered several kinds of vehicles, from ambulances to light transport, which “implied that the current corporeal volume of the complainant does not correspond to the optimal functionality for the space allotted for these vehicles.”

“The Sala [IV] considers that it is not possible to presume any discrimination against the complainant,” the ruling said, saying that the decision was based on the technical criteria of the job.

According to 2008 data from the World Health Organization, more than 20 percent of Costa Ricans over the age of 20 are overweight.

Contact Zach Dyer at zdyer@ticotimes.net

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Ken Morris

Fat discrimination isn’t illegal in the US, either, though you have to wonder how it even became an issue in Costa Rica. This is a country where discrimination based upon age, gender, and national origin (no Nicas please) are perfectly legal.

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