Employer-Paid Weight Loss Surgery

An Indiana court recently held that an employer must pay for an employee’s weight-loss surgery. 340-lb employee Adam Childers was injured at work, and he gained 40 lbs while recovering. Workers comp covered Childers’s back surgery, but his employers argued that they should not also have to cover the insertion of a lap band to hasten Childers’s weight loss necessary for back surgery to correct his problem.

There are lots of fun issues here, but isn’t the lowest-hanging fruit the fact that lap band surgery is incredibly dangerous? Granted, weighing 380 lbs is also dangerous, but the emp/r didn’t pay for that.

If an employee would never have gotten a life-threatening surgery but for two employer driven pressures: 1) the injury he suffered at work that ultimately made the surgery urgent; and 2) the emp/r’s paying for the lap band, which Childers presumably could not afford to do, might there be an argument for employer liability if something happens to Childers?

Tenuous, maybe, but the law is “a ass.” How would risks be distributed here?


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