Lap-Band Surgery to be Covered By Pizza Shop

Lap-Band surgery is not the type of procedure one might expect to be covered by worker’s compensation. But, an Indiana pizza shop is being forced to pay for a worker’s weight loss surgery in addition to his back surgery after he was injured on the job. The ruling raises the question of whether companies will start to shy away from hiring obese employees.

pizza_ua-1An Indiana pizzeria worker is set to undergo both back surgery and Lap-Band surgery as part of a worker’s compensation arrangement after being injured during work. The surgeries, according to a ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals, will be paid for by his employers.

The Lap-Band details stem from the fact that 25-year-old Adam Childers weighs 380 pounds. Although technically, he was 40 pounds lighter in March 2007, when he was hit by the freezer door in the kitchen of Boston’s Gourmet Pizza, which caused him to fall down and injure his back. For the record, he also smoked 30 cigarettes a day.

The results of the accident reportedly caused Childers heavy back pain that had spread to his legs and was said to require an operation. However, he was medically advised that this operation wouldn’t be successful unless he lost some weight.  According to court documents, in fact, his doctor felt that if he lost enough weight, back surgery might even turn out to be unnecessary.

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But it had also been finally determined that Childers had been unable to lose weight on his own during the period he had his accident. And so his weight situation at that time, when added to the incident, were found to create a “single injury” status that has made him eligible for both back surgery and the Lap-Band procedure … at the expense of Boston’s Gourmet Pizza.

As an analysis of the case on Workers Comp Insider recently noted, “With the Childers decision, employers in Indiana have been put on notice that at least one conspicuous part of the labor pool – obese people – bring the risk of substantially higher costs following injuries in the workplace.”

The implication is that employers might be inclined to discriminate against obese job candidates. Meanwhile, time will tell whether Childers will want to keep his job at the pizza shop after having Lap-Band surgery, since the frustration of not being able scarf down the occasional pepperoni pie may be too much to bear.

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