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April 6, 2011

No Smokers Allowed

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:49 pm

There are roughly five applicants for every job opening these days.  So does that give employers the right to be picky, beyond the education and skill requirements for the job?  In many cases, employers are saying “yes.”  Many employers are adopting workplace policies to not only be “smoke-free” but “smoker-free.”  Job applications may indicate these companies follow tobacco-free hiring, subjecting job seekers to urine tests for nicotine.

According to federal estimates as reported in the New York Times, employees who smoke cost, on average, $3,391 more a year for health care and lost productivity.  Some employers believe it is unfair for employees who maintain healthy lifestyles to subsidize those who don’t.

But is this legal?  These new anti-smoker measures are very controversial.  Critics include the American Civil Liberties Unions and tobacco companies who believe employers are crossing a line by interfering with employees’ private lives.

Does your state have a “smokers” protection law?  Currently 29 states have laws on the books allowing workers to sue an employer if they’re denied a job because they are smokers.  The outcome of this controversial issue will be interesting to follow.

 

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