Ban smoking or ban smokers? How far can you legally go?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have established “lifestyle discrimination” laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on the person’s off-duty use of tobacco or participation in other legal though controversial activities.

On the federal level, no single law directly tackles such employer bans on smokers. But several laws restrict how employers could enforce such a ban. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their health condition when determining benefit premiums or contributions. HIPAA makes an exception for wellness programs, in which employers can offer incentives or provide education to smokers to help them quit.

Whichever anti-smoking initiatives employers try, all smoking bans must be enforced uniformly. Targeting women, minorities, workers over 40 or the disabled cou...(register to read more)

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