Could smoking be an ADA-protected disability?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have so-called “smoker protection” laws—laws that elevate smokers to a protected class and make it illegal to discriminate against employees because they smoke.

But in many states, there is nothing illegal about making employment decisions based on someone’s status as a smoker. In fact, many employers are attempting to curb rampant health care costs by implementing workplace “smoke-outs,” totally prohibiting the employment of smokers as a class.

Before the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) became effective on Jan. 1, 2009, I was optimistic that these smoke-outs were legal. After the ADAAA, however, I have reservations.

The ADAAA’s stated intent is to make it “much easier for individuals seeking the law’s protection to demonstrate that they meet the definition of ‘disability.’ …”

It accomplishes that goal by expanding the definition of the term “disability.” In fact, the defini...(register to read more)

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