Q: Can an employer fire me or refuse to hire me for being a smoker?
A: First distinguish between smoking at work and smoking off-premises. Employers can ban smoking, including vaping, at work and on the job site. Beyond that, some employers wish to refuse to hire or wish to fire smokers for three reasons: smokers impose higher health-care premiums and costs than non-smokers, smokers are less productive on the job (taking smoke breaks), and smokers have a higher absentee rate.
Protection for smoking off-premises depends on which state your employer is located. There is no federal law declaring smokers a “protected class” under discrimination laws. You must look to the local laws for the answer. Washington, D.C. and 29 states have enacted legislation which provides smokers some protection. The protection either directly includes smoking or is wrapped in language that protects workers from adverse actions for off-duty conduct, be it smoking or other activities (California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoker_protection_law for a list of state statutes.
There may be variations in the applicability of the laws,
depending on whether the employer is public or private, how many workers are
employed by the employer, and whether a union contract addresses the issue. As with other discrimination protection laws,
there are exceptions if safety is involved or if a “BFOQ” exists. A BFOQ is a
bona fide occupational requirement that makes a ban legitimate.
Francine Cullari, MA, MBA, JD
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The University of Michigan-Flint’s School of Management now offers the most flexible MBA program around. Starting in spring 2020, the MBA program will offer a fully online completion path. The online MBA will enhance UM-Flint’s current evening and Net+ hybrid MBA course offerings. The University of Michigan-Flint’s online MBA allows students from around the world to receive the highly prestigious University of Michigan MBA education without leaving home. “Our online MBA courses offer students an incredible amount of flexibility in pursuing their degree. Students might pursue a degree that is primarily online with a mix of Net+ hybrid and traditional courses, or pursue a (the MBA) degree that is primarily Net+ and take advantage of an online course here and there when they need to. Faculty teaching online are making use of video conferencing and other tools to bring more of the traditional classroom feeling into the online learning experience,” said Dr. Greg Laurence, Associate Professor of Management.
University of Michigan-Flint MBA students will now have the opportunity to choose from three modes of MBA classes, making its flexibility unmatched. Students can choose from an evening class, which meets weekly, Net+ hybrid classes, which are mostly online with two-weekend campus sessions each semester and 100% online classes that require no campus visits. UM-Flint’s distinguished MBA professors teach in all three modes and are based on the University of Michigan-Flint campus. Dr. Clement Chen, Professor of Accounting says, “The online MBA program is taught by faculty who excel in online instruction. They are passionate about imparting knowledge and building rapport with students in an interactive online learning community. Professors care a great deal about students learning and are very responsive to the learning needs of students.”