In Many States, Smoking Habits Can Affect Job Potential

Law Firm Newswire



Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) September 26, 2014 – Employers in some states may legally refuse to hire a smoker.

Some employers will screen job candidates during the hiring process, and some include a nicotine test. At such companies, a positive result will disqualify a candidate. This practice is allowable under federal law. However, if a person is hired, many states forbid employers from firing the worker after a negative drug test or if the worker becomes a smoker while employed.

“For the most part, an employer may ban smoking in the workplace. Demanding a smoker step outside to smoke while at work, or only smoke when off the job, is not discrimination. Federal laws actually completely ban smoking in any workplace,” explained Chicago employment lawyer Timothy C. Coffey. Smokers are not considered part of a protected class under federal law. However, some states ban employers from discriminating against smokers.

More than half of 50 states have laws that protect smokers’ rights. While workers in these states do not have the right to smoke at work, they are always allowed to do so after hours. Smokers’ rights do exist in a limited form, but they may only offer restricted protection. States without smokers’ rights legislation are silent on protection, neither protecting the right to smoke nor allowing discrimination.

“Federal law does not currently address this potential form of discrimination. The American Civil Liberties Union insists that smokers need protection. Employers answer that they are not telling workers what to do when they are not at work, only on the clock. But the reality is that smoking workers are just not being hired at companies that disapprove of the practice,” said Coffey.

Learn more at THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C. 351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602 Chicago, IL 60654 Call: 312.627.9700
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