Will Sitting Lawsuits Be Far Behind?
That was the evocative headline of an article by corporate wellness guru Kirsi Paalanen in today’s Huffington Post. We wrote a blog post on a related subject last year entitled “Will Employers Stop Hiring Overweight Workers?”, but Paakanen takes this discussion to a whole new level, while pointing out the mounting evidence that treadmill desks have been found to significantly improve worker health and productivity.
We’re not sure we’re ready to sign on to the notion that employers will sue overweight employees, but if the past decade’s experience in Europe is any guide, employers may find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits from unions or class actions from employee groups for not properly accommodating sedentary workers with the choice of a sit-to-stand desk or a treadmill desk.
Paalanen’s article comes on the heels of an earth-shattering report published online two weeks ago by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The report details a massive study of 330,000 individuals, in which it was determined that inactivity increases the risk of early death by twice as much as obesity. Employers need to realize that “sitting disease” causes their sedentary workers real injury, injury that has real costs to their organization. Elsewise, some day in the not to distant future, they are bound see a new wave of litigation, just as there was when employers were sued for allowing second-hand smoke to affect the health of non-smoking employees.
The good news is that more and more employers are already becoming proactive in supplying their sedentary workers with active furniture solutions (treadmill desks, sit-to-stand meeting tables, standing desks, etc.) because they see the profit in doing so. Healthier employees are more productive and tend to have a more positive mental outlook. Consequently, they are also less likely to leave and take a job that involves less backache and metabolic degradation due to long hours of sitting.