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Terminating smokers: When there’s smoke, can you fire?

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in Firing,Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Ever since media reports focused earlier this year on a Michigan company's strict policy banning smokers on staff, many employers have asked the question: "Can we, should we, do the same?"

Legally speaking, the answer depends on three factors: your state law, your at-will employment policy and how much risk you're willing to accept.

Some background: In February, benefits vendor Weyco Inc. made headlines by firing four employees who refused to submit to a nicotine test. The company had drafted a new policy that made smoking a firing offense, even if it's done at home. Weyco now randomly tests its 200 employees for nicotine use, saying it will fire those who test positive and refuse to quit smoking. (See more on Weyco's policy at www.weyco.com.)

Weyco isn't alone in its get-tough policies. Alaska Airlines' policy prohibits hiring smokers. And Union Pacific railroad in Nebraska recently launched a no-smoking policy...(register to read more)

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