Should Your Employer Be Allowed To Fire You If You Smoke ?

That’s the question raised by the case of a Massachusetts man suing his former employer for firing him when he tested positive for nicotine:

A Buzzards Bay man has sued The Scotts Co. , the lawn care giant, for firing him after a drug test showed nicotine in his urine, indicating that he had violated a company policy forbidding employees to smoke on or off the job. Many are unaware that such drug tests can detect nicotine, and how this and other substances are detected. You can read more here about drug testing to understand more about this case, and how this man was caught out by his workplace. Many would argue that what substances he puts in his body in his own time is an individual matter and should not affect his standing with his employers. Alas, this is not the case in this instance, leading to the individual in question losing their job. Others facing similar tests can click here to see what course of action can be taken to avoid failing such a test.

There are various types of drug tests available to employers. Aside from urine testing, some drug tests also involve hair follicle examinations. To learn more about hair follicle drug testing go to

Employers are often keen to learn more about prospective employees and do digging around them in the form of background checks which can often lead to someone missing out on a job opportunity. If this has happened to you but it stemmed from an error in your background check, you might want to dispute this by getting a hireright background check lawyer onside.

The suit, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, is highly unusual because it involves an employee who was terminated for engaging in legal activities away from the workplace. The lawyer who filed the complaint said he believes it is the first of its kind in the state.

Scotts announced last year that it would no longer hire tobacco users, a policy company officials said was intended to improve employee wellness and drive down the company’s healthcare costs. But civil libertarians say it violates personal privacy rights and could be used to mask age discrimination or other illegal behavior.

The gut reaction of most people, I suspect, will be to say that Scotts had no right to fire this man for something he did outside of work. But, why shouldn’t they be allowed to fire him for any reason they deem appropriate ? You don’t have a right to a job, and you don’t have a right to a job under rules you find acceptable. If Scotts, or any other employer, believes that off-the-job behavior can have an impact on the company, which it certainly can when the company is paying for health insurance, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to tell someone that if they engage in certain behavior, on or off the job, they could be subject to termination ?

As the article goes on to state, the Plaintiff in this case knew about the no-smoking policy at the time he was hired. If he didn’t like the rule, then he didn’t have to take the job. Having taken the job, though, he can’t complain when he faces the consequences of not following the rules.

H/T: Hit & Run