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September 20, 2013

HR Fact Friday: E-Cigarettes at Work

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

You’ve seen the late night commercials and magazine ads for e-cigarettes. What are they? Wikipedia says an e-cigarette “is an electronic inhaler meant to simulate and substitute for tobacco smoking… [utilizing] a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution. Some release nicotine, while some merely release flavored vapor. They are often designed to mimic traditional smoking implements, such as cigarettes or cigars, in their use and/or appearance.”

Can a private employer ban the same at work? Certainly, but you should give clear notice of your rule and have a good business reason for doing so rather than using it as code for getting rid of someone you do not like for other reasons (e.g. religious status). Note also that some states preclude a business from using legal outside-the-job conduct (such as e-smoking) as the basis for employment decisions.

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