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You smoke, you’re fired! Lessons from the Whirlpool Case

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

The dangers of smoking are well documented: heart disease and cancer, shorter life expectancy, higher health care expenses. Now add another risk: As workers in Indiana just found out, smoking could get you fired. Was their employer justified in taking action, or did it step into a legal quagmire?

Whirlpool Corp., in Evansville, Ind., two weeks ago suspended 39 employees who had signed insurance documents attesting they didn’t use tobacco.

The company had given them discounts on their health insurance premiums because nonsmokers are healthier than smokers—and thus have lower health care and insurance costs.

Whirlpool was eager to pass on the savings as an incentive for employees to abstain from smoking.

Only trouble was, Whirlpool officials spotted the 39 lighting up on company premises. The employees were suspended without pay pending fact-finding hearings that will determine whether they will keep their jobs....(register to read more)

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