Vice Squad
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Fired For Smoking Off the Job?

Over at Crescat, Waddling Thunder supports the right of a private company to insist that its employees not smoke, even off of the job. I tend to agree. It is worth noting, however, that such a policy could not legally be adopted by most employers here in the state of Illinois. The 1991 Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (ยง 820 ILCS 55/5) reads in part " shall be unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise disadvantage any individual, with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because the individual uses lawful products off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours." There are exceptions, but it doesn't look as if the Michigan company that sparked the recent flurry of news coverage would fall within them.

According to the New York Times article linked by Waddling Thunder, Michigan is one of 20 states that do not have laws prohibiting the conditioning of employment on off-the-job non-smoking.

Incidentally, I am sympathetic to the company's right to do this (even though, like Waddling Thunder, I do not think much of the policy), in part because I would like to see legal availability of all drugs for adults. As part of the overall regulatory scheme, however, I think it would be fine for employers and insurance companies to discriminate on the basis of opiate or cocaine use (or on the possession of a license to use opiates or cocaine, which is another potential element of a legal regime for those drugs.)

Vice Squad came across the Illinois Right to Privacy act once before, when it was partly or wholly responsible for the demise of the ban on dancing at Wheaton College.

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