Saturday, January 29, 2005

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I was watching TV this morning while my son was falling asleep again, I think we had the Early Show on, but I can't remember for sure. At any rate, they had this report of a company in Michigan (A fine state where I hope to return someday) who fired employees who smoked.
The situation is like this: for the sake of decreased health care costs, the boss gave his employees one year to quit smoking or else he'd can them. Of the (I think they said) 200 employees, only 4 quit, rather than go through this.
Now, I understand not allowing your employees to smoke at work. It smells better, and they are typically more productive, since they don't go out for smoke breaks every 45-50 minutes. I can even understand hiring non-smokers for the same purpose. What upset me about this report was that the boss was doing breath tests on his employees to make sure they weren't smoking at all.
I'm a big fan of civil liberties. I really don't like the idea of a boss telling me what I can and can't do with my property when I'm not at work. And I really have a hard time believing that any of these employees consented to smoke-breath tests as a condition of employment when they were first hired, so to tell them that, if they don't quit smoking altogether, their position at their place of employment is forfeit sort of bugs me.
Bosses: If you don't want smokers at work, advertise that you are looking for non-smokers. There's nothing wrong with that. But don't tell your current employees that they must surrender a liberty for the sake of their job. When you take the first one, all the others get that much easier.


Steve said...

A quick update on this one from the Detroit Free Press:
According to the Press, a representative from Michigan's Congress is offering a Proposed legislation that would keep employers from discriminating against someone for doing something they don't like (smoking at home, in this case.) My guess is that they saw this on the Early Show, and decided to do something about it. I just hope the measure passes, not because I want to encourage smoking, but because I think it's important to allow people to enjoy freedoms allowed by law in their own homes without fear of losing their jobs.! said...

how about smoking pot and random drug testing? would that be covered under the bill? hmmm...

AshleyWest said...

A hostpital I once worked at did something like this. First, the hospital was made so smoke free, the employees couldn't smoke in their cars in the parking lot. Then they said that they would make the employees stop smoking while they were at home. I don't smoke, but this made me mad. Seems like our free country ain't being so free anymore.

Steve said...

I fully appreciate someone being anti-smoking. I even appreciate them not wanting to employ smoking. However, if they hire someone who smokes, and that is acceptable to them, then said smoker should be able to continue their employ after the boss decides against smoking. I don't know that I would require the boss to maintain health insurance for smokers, but the folks who smoked when he hired them, provided they still do good work, should be allowed to stay.

Had he made it a policy that new hires would have to be nonsmokers, then I could appreciate that, because at least then he's taking a habit they already possess, as opposed to trying to change them to fit his wishes.

by the way, welcome to the binjo ditch, Ashley. I trust you'll find it more pleasant here than the ones in Korea.