A chiropractor in suburban Birmingham, Alabama is coming under fire after a video was uploaded to Facebook
An AL.com interview with the owner of Dr. Chris Harrison Chiropractic revealed that he’s not backing down against his hiring requirements for his Vestavia Hills practice.
“I don’t hire overweight people,” he told a former employee in the video.
“You killed my self-esteem, I don’t even want to talk to you,” former employee Stephanie Hearn can be overheard saying.
At no point during her interview for the job was she told that the doctor refused to hire people that were overweight. She began working for him three weeks ago and was still training for the position. The job didn’t offer any health insurance but did give free chiropractic services and she’d had a history of back pain, so she took the job.
The doctor then asked her if she wanted to lose weight and she said that she did. He forced her to purchase a diet book using her own money, claiming if people “don’t have any skin in the game, they don’t appreciate it.”
Hearn said that her weight became the topic of conversation at work. He offered her a protein shake one day and since he was her boss she didn’t feel like she had a choice to refuse. She felt like it was a subtle jab at her eating habits. Though Harrison claimed he offered her the shake because he was making one for himself.
“I was always on edge about everything and really uncomfortable,” Hearn explained. “I felt like the whole time I was there, my job depended on my weight and my lifestyle.”
Harrison said that at the end of her 90-day probationary period he might terminate her if he didn’t see progress. Not in her work, however, in her dieting.
“I’m not going to hire an overweight person and then try to sell weight loss here. It doesn’t make any sense,” Harrison told AL.com in an interview. “I have nothing against overweight people. If you want to be that way, I can be your friend, but I’m not going to hire you.”
He went on to say that if she didn’t make any attempt to lose weight after 90 days “and still had rolls of fat on her” he may have suggested, ‘Hey, I’m not going to hire someone who’s overweight” because people who are overweight are “a big risk medically.” Harrison didn’t pay for any medical services or health care for Hern, however.
He also said that he doesn’t like to hire people who take drugs for depression. Hearn did, saying she was shocked it was even brought up because it was never discussed at the office. Because she was treated at the office, however, she had to disclose medication on medical history forms. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents doctors from releasing private information about someone’s health publicly as Harrison did to the media.
He told AL.com that if Hearn was still taking the same medications she was at the beginning of her job he wouldn’t have hired her at all.
Hearn quit last week and took the video when she went back to the office to return her keys. She said she couldn’t take the judgement about her weight. She hopes going to the media will prevent fat-shaming of others in the future.
“I’ve worked around guys all my life, and this is the first encounter in my life where an employer has been on my back,” Hearn said. “I told him how sensitive I was about my weight, because of my (previous) abusive marriage. It’s not right of him to do that. We already allow the general public to do it, and if we start allowing employers to do it, it’s just going to continue. It’s not right for women or men.”
The doctor confessed he wished he wasn’t as emotional as he was in the video but refuses to back down from his stance against fat people and those on antidepressants.
“I didn’t see anything I was very upset about. It didn’t bother me. If I was acting, I would have been a little more controlled in what I said, but I’m a human too,” Harrison told AL.com. “I can see that Stephanie is in distress, and I’m just praying that Jesus would send her the holy spirit.”
Raw Story reached out to Dr. Harrison for comment about whether he believes he violated the HIPAA law disclosing Hearn’s medical information in the AL.com interview. Maximum violation of the HIPAA law brings a $1.5 million penalty.
Watch Hearn’s full video below: