More US Companies Announce "Hire No Smokers" Policies

More US Companies Announce Hire-No-Smokers Policies

Has an Oregon employer refused to hire you based on your status as a smoker? If so, it may constitute employment discrimination.

For many years now cigarette smokers have been slowly excluded from public spaces and smoking has developed more of a stigma than ever before. Studies suggest that in 1965 as many as 42% of adults in America were smokers. A growing awareness of smoking's hazards is a primary reason the percentage of adult smokes in the US has dropped to 19% today.

Now in many states smokers are being disqualified for employment. This is a drastic measure as more and more companies, many in the health care industry, and are saying that it is their responsibility to protect others in the workplace from second hand smoke and set an example of a healthy life style by not hiring smokers at all. At a growing number of US companies smokers are told, no need to apply.

But claims by employers that they are simply trying to promote a culture of wellness isn't exactly the whole story. Smokers cost companies profits. The negative impact of smokers to employers can be seen in a number of instances. The health care cost to an employer for a smoker is far greater than for a non-smoker. The loss of productivity is greater for a smoker than a non-smoker and smokers take more work breaks than non-smokers. The data suggests that smokers also use more sick-time for smoking related illness. In fact the Center for Disease Control reports that smoking and second hand exposure together cost the nation $193 billion in health care bills and lost productivity every year.

This new trend among employers raises the question of whether it is acceptable for smokers to be excluded from the hiring process for a personal habit pursued out of the office. Opponents of the hire-no-smokers policies worry about a "slippery slope" and ask who's next, alcohol drinkers, the over caffeinated, overweight applicants?

While the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not recognize the hire-no-smoker practice as discriminatory, many states do. So far, 29 states including Washington DC have passed legislation to protect smokers from being denied employment based their status as smokers. The other 21 states have no rules regarding job applicants who smoke.

The ACLU, (American Civil Liberties Union) has criticized hire-no-smoker polices as a form of employment discrimination that should not be tolerated.

Oregon is one of the 29 states where smoker's employment rights have been protected. In Oregon it is not legal for any company to exclude an applicant from the hiring process based on his or her status as a smoker. If you think that you have been disqualified from a potential job because you are a smoker, an employment discrimination lawyer at Angel Law, P.C. may be able to help you pursue an employment discrimination case.