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Pink Slips for Cancer Sticks

Is the Scott's Company simply following the current trend of discouraging smoking by firing an employee for smoking off duty? Or did it go too far in intruding into an employee's life off the job? That's the issue that Employers' Lawyer Mike Fox takes up in this post about this article about a Buzzards' Bay man fired from his job when his employer discovered he'd been smoking. The employee admitted that he'd smoked, but claimed that he did not smoke during work hours or on his break. The company justifies its strict anti-smoking policy intended to keep workers healthy and protect their wallets. But apparently, employees don't appreciate this paternalism (or is it Big-Brother-ism?), and the terminated employee has filed a lawsuit claiming that the company's policy violates his civil rights.

Is the right to smoke off the job a civil right that a company can't control? Or does a company's ability to terminate an employee at will trump these private rights? I think we'd all agree that as a matter of simple fairness, the company stands on weak ground. But what's the law likely to say about this situation?   

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 5, 2006 at 07:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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