Should Your Employer Be Allowed To Fire You If You Smoke ?by Doug Mataconis
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.
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