2012-11-04

Legal Discrimination? Smokers Need Not Apply!

Although I probably shouldn't be surprised, I learned something new today: employers can legally discriminate against smokers in the work force - at least in 20 States of the Union. They're not required to provide "Equal Opportunity" for open positions to this subset of the workforce. I do not condone habitual smoking nor would I any such behavior, but there is something fundamentally wrong about allowing employers to exclude you from consideration based upon a personal decision.

Image capture of job text: NOTE: Non-Smokers OnlyI'm not currently looking for new employment, nor am I a smoker. I'm simply too lazy to unsubscribe from the Twin Cities Linux Users Jobs List, and when I saw the following post, I was incensed. I needed to know more.

I stopped in to the HR office to ask if it was possible in the state of Minnesota to post a job under these restrictions, and I was surprised to find out that smokers do not belong to a "protected class" of workers. From Law.com:
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoker protection laws that limit that practice, according to the American Lung Association. But despite laws prohibiting the discrimination against smokers in the hiring process, Banzhaf hasn’t “found a single case where there’s been a holding in favor of a smoker” in such a case.

Interesting. Even if the law is on your side, you're not going to get the job. Being a smoker today is a rough, discriminatory life. I hope you're able to quit, if that's your desire, or able to find employment if you still enjoy smoking. In the very least, I would suggest you keep it low key. (Or vote Libertarian!)