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February 10, 2010

Job Hunting? Now May Be a Good Time to Kick the Habit

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs1:01 pm

Given the economy and record unemployment rate, employers can afford to be choosy in their hiring practices. In addition to credit checks, drug testing and background investigations, some companies are now conducting nicotine tests on prospective candidates.

Federal law doesn’t protect smokers from discrimination, however 16 states have laws prohibiting employment decisions based on the tobacco habits of a candidate.

In 2008 Caterpillar Inc. banned smoking on its worksite and Whirlpool Corp. fired 39 workers who lied about not smoking to avoid paying an increase in health care premiums, according to Colleen Madden, a researcher at Challenger Gray. Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., doesn’t hire new employees who use any kind of tobacco products, on or off duty, according to Madden. Nicotine screenings are included with the usual drug screenings.

Sometimes the habit proves a stronger lure: In 2006, Weyco and Scotts Miracle Grow each stopped hiring smokers, and four Weyco workers quit rather than take the mandatory nicotine screening.

The best advice when applying for a job: Be truthful on the job application, even if you’re a smoker.



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