In the "I-don´t-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry" files, an Oregon man has successfully sued his employer to foot the bill for his gastric bypass surgery, using the state´s workers´ compensation law.
After injuring his knee on the job in 1976 and reinjuring it in 1999, his physicians told him that his obesity -- he´s 350 pounds - would prevent effective treatment for the injury. He´s elected to undergo gastric bypass surgery and sued his employer to pay for it with workers´ compensation benefits. The state workers´ comp board and an appeals court gave the greenlight.
I admit I don´t know all the facts of this case, but it seems a pretty big leap to suggest an employer caused a worker´s obesity, particularly to the point where the company would be on the hook to pay for a procedure to reverse said obesity.
Personally, I think employers are doing all they can and then some to help employees get healthy - and perhaps this case is a sign that truly no good deed goes unpunished. Wellness programs, disease management, walking trails and onsite fitness facilities, healthy vending/cafeteria options, free health risk assessments and on and on cost employers millions of dollars each year.
Not out of complete altruism, certainly, but the bottom line is that employees can benefit from the programs at no cost to them. This is the kind of case that might make employers wonder whether the effort is worth it.
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