Weight loss order called unfair labour practice

Employer says it’s a safety issue

Requiring employees to shed excess pounds has landed Houston-based Reliant Energy with an unfair labour practices complaint.

Reliant issued a memo to its workers in May requiring linemen and electricians to weigh no more than 280 pounds when fully outfitted in steel-toed boots, tools and safety gear. That means a worker can weigh no more than 255 pounds.

The basis for the order was that many of the buckets on Reliant’s trucks can only carry 300 pounds. The company also became concerned when, during a safety training exercise, some employees couldn’t fit into safety belts needed to climb poles or rescue other workers.

Employees were given six months to lose the extra pounds. About 30 of the company’s 900 workers are affected. If they don’t lose the weight, they may be reassigned, receive less pay or be fired.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represents the workers. It filed an unfair labour practice complaint on Aug. 7 alleging that the company had not given employees enough time to lose the weight safely.

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