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Yeah, I've donefour already...

Registered: 07/10/04
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Where there's smoke, you're fired
    #3699387 - 01/29/05 08:16 PM (13 years, 29 days ago)


Thousands of smokers in America are afraid for their jobs this weekend after a firm in the business of organising health services sacked employees who smoked anywhere in their off-duty hours.
Legal experts say there?s not much smokers can do if other bosses bring in similar rules.

Kathleen Bogas, National Employment Lawyers? Association vice president, said: ?This will empower employers to take further steps to restrict the rights of employees ? and that is the tragedy.?

At least 20 workers, including at least one husband and wife, quit smoking ?voluntarily? after the Michigan-based firm Weyco, which employees 200, outlined plans for a zero-tolerance smoking policy. At-home smokers were to be fingered with random nicotine tests.

At the end of December, the axe fell. Four women were fired before the new ?no smokers? policy took effect on January 1. Bogas said the women had to sign a document declining the test and saying they were smokers.

It read in part: ?I understand that by self-identifying myself as a tobacco user, I will be relieved of my duties immediately.? The women were then escorted from the premises.

?These were woman who really loved their jobs. One had worked there for 14 years. If they could have given up smoking they would have. It is an addiction,? said Bogas.

Seven other workers who failed the first nicotine test were reprieved after they underwent a urine test that cleared them, said a company spokesman.

Howard Weyers, president of the company, said its approach to smoking ?might not be for everybody?. But as the business was providing other companies with innovative health plans ?it?s natural for us to take a leadership position on this issue?.

The action has been attacked by civil rights campaigners. Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute said the smoking ban was an invasion of individual rights. ?What you do in your own home after work or on the weekend is none of your boss?s business,? he said.

In an online poll conducted by AOL, 80% of the respondents agreed with Maltby. The Weyco move is a dramatic escalation in the US war on smoking. The percentage of adults who smoke has dropped nationally from 37% in 1970 to 23% last year.

One nationwide transport firm based in Omaha has stopped hiring smokers in seven states ?to help quell employee health costs?. A sheriff?s department near Los Angeles wants applicants for deputy sheriff jobs to sign a no-smoking agreement. In Florida, a sheriff?s office is asking would-be employees who are ex-smokers to pass a lie-detector test proving they no longer smoke outside work.

In a poll last month, one third of US employers said they had stop-smoking programmes. One in 20 said they preferred not to hire smokers and 1% refused to hire smokers. Dr Lauren Colby, a lawyer and author of the book In Defence Of Smokers, said the way the law stood in many American states meant there was little workers could do about it if they were sacked for being smokers.

?These employers are simply depriving themselves of some very good workers. They are cutting their own throat. As a libertarian I am strongly against this action. Employers should not be able to interfere in this way with people?s private lives.?

Weyco?s random nicotine testing began on January 1 after being set out in a company document last year. This said that from that date Weyco ?will be a smoke-free company and all employees must maintain a smoke-free and tobacco-free status at all times?.

Employees would have to submit to ?pre-employment and random smoke tests and submit to pre-employment and reasonable-suspicion drug, alcohol and smoke tests?.

Weyers said he brought in the new policy because of soaring health insurance costs. At that point about 10% of the Weyco workforce smoked. He said they had assisted smoking employees through efforts including smoking-cessation classes, medication and acupuncture. There was ?53 a month in incentives for meeting modest fitness goals. The firm even created walking trails near its offices in Okemos, said Weyers.

?While trying to be sensitive to a smoker?s personal predicament, we were also saying, ?You can choose to smoke after January 1, but if so, you?ll need to find other employment?.?

Most employees have slowly come to accept the new policy, said Weyers.

He ridiculed the notion the company would now ban unhealthy eating, drinking, or sexual behaviour.

US law protected people with conditions like obesity, alcoholism and Aids, said Weyers, ?but there?s no right to indulge in tobacco use?.

Bogas said it was illegal to discriminate against people on grounds of race, sex or religion but smokers did not have that protection in most states.

?However, there may be a claim under privacy laws. The test Weyco uses is a breath test for carbon monoxide which is by no means foolproof. If the employee fails that they are then allowed to take a urine test.

?The tests could be a violation of the workers? right to privacy. Smoking doesn?t affect your ability to do your job nor is it a safety concern in the workplace. We are looking into it.?

Weyers said his company was proud of its stance. ?For every smoker who quits because of it, there will be many people ? family members, friends and co-workers ? who are very thankful the person won?t be going to an early grave.?

Other local firms are watching the results of the Weyco policy with interest, said a company spokesman. ?One community college at Kalamazoo has said it will no longer employ smokers. And part-time college staff who are smokers will not be confirmed to full-time appointments.?


I read something very similar to this article in my newspaper today.  I mean, I don't like ciggs, but to fire someone just because they smoke :nonono:

It was ridiculous when they banned it from bars (only in certain states)...now this...


The story of life is quicker then the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.            - Hendrix :bow:

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Registered: 06/14/00
Posts: 29,281
Loc: Shroomery B-list.
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Re: Where there's smoke, you're fired [Re: theocean06]
    #3700287 - 01/30/05 12:19 AM (13 years, 29 days ago)

You gotta be fucking shitting me.

Alcohol is next, watch out!

I'm going to write some serious emails about this fucker.

The funny thing is, unless they're also doing urinalysis, people can just switch to oral methods. :tongue:

"..all those molecules thrashing their kinky little tails, hot for destiny and the street."  Gibson

Nuke baby seals for Jesus!

(This has been a +1 production.)

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Registered: 10/27/98
Posts: 5,389
Loc: The Matrix
Re: Where there's smoke, you're fired [Re: theocean06]
    #3707629 - 01/31/05 03:27 PM (13 years, 28 days ago)

I think cigarettes are evil, but I think that these companies are going way too far. If the issue is health care, why not just charge them a higher health insurance premium.


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