Thursday, February 21, 2008

Carnivores Need Not Apply from the Blog of HR Lori, Human Resources in California

A tongue in cheek look at a serious issue:

It would appear that recent court cases in California have defended a company's right to discriminate against potential employees based upon their food preferences!

In a recent case, a vegan temp was denied full time employment because he would not submit to vaccination with a product grown in chicken embryos. The court upheld the employer's right to deny the position based entirely upon this ethical belief, which is primary expressed in his food choices.

Lori then goes on to list a job posting which requires a vegetarian applicant. This too, is apparently legal in California, under current precedent.

Looking at the HR implications, and some new training materials we may need to develop:

Diversity in the Cafeteria -- When burgers meet tofu
Business casual dress without leather
When eating steak at dinner becomes a job qualification

All joking aside, although the case in question did involve a medical procedure, it's worth consideration. More and more companies are enacting rules governing employee behaviour outside of regular work hours. Rising health care costs, and lost work time are resulting in companies banning off-hours alcohol use and smoking. Recreational drug use at home is already taboo, and is checked via urine tests for potential and existing employees. Some companies offer bonuses for employees who enroll in exercise and weight loss programs.

Surely food choices cannot be far behind.

While the goal of reducing health care costs is understandable, perhaps there is more of a role for trainers and less for rule makers.

Consider stepping beyond the substance addiction issues and offering classes on healthy eating, the benefits of meditation, alternative medicine, or ...vegetarianism. While education programs are available at many hospitals and clinics, at-work healthy lifestyle programs may offer greater accessibility, plus peer reinforcement.

1 comment:

Hadar Hazay said...

Here we go! seems like its only the begining of a new era of discrimination. I feel that this can become a rising issue that law makers and HR managers will have to address in the future as we see more and more cases of discrimination based on employee's personal life style and preferences.

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