Woman ‘too fat to work’

2008-04-25 00:00

Potchefstroom — A factory worker from North West province claims she was sent on unpaid sick leave to lose weight.

Phana Motlale (31), a general factory worker at Fourie’s Poultry Farms — more commonly known as Chubby Chick — threatened to take the company to the Labour Court.

Motlale, who has been working for the company for about five years, said she weighs 135 kg.

She claimed that her employer sent her on unpaid sick leave on January 25 and told her to lose weight.

"They said I must come back on May 5 to be weighed. If I haven’t lost weight, they’re going to ask me to resign."

Motlale said the reason she was given was that she was a risk to her own safety if she did not lose weight.

"I was not told why I was a risk to my own safety. I sit and work so I don’t understand how that is possible."

Since she has been on leave, Motlale has not lost a single kilogram, she said.

Chubby Chick’s personnel manager, Dr Callie van der Merwe, said the company decided to send Motlale on leave because of her "chronic medical problem".

He said Chubby Chick’s employees are entitled to 30 days of sick leave in a three-year cycle.

This was deducted from the entire time she was away. Therefore, she wouldn’t be paid for more than a month.

Van der Merwe said he did not have the authority to discuss Motlale’s medical condition with the media, but said it is possible that obesity could be a cause or a symptom of her chronic medical condition.

A labour law expert, who asked not be named for professional reasons, said that in this case, one would have to ask whether it was a matter of discrimination or of a work requirement.

He cited the example of an air hostess, which, he said is a job in which slimness could be seen to be a work requirement.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.