Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Smoking is bad... for your lungs and your job.

I just heard this on All Things Considered a few minutes ago. Basically, this company requires all of its employees to be smoke-free in a year or they're fired (or they can resign). The company has good reasons for this: employees who smoke drive up health care costs. The company offers to pay for programs and supplies to help quit smoking. But, if after a year you test positive to random nicotene tests... you're outta there.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a reasonable attempt by a company to 1)reduce costs, and 2)protect their employees? I agree that it's legal. We have laws protecting people from being fired/not hired due to race, ethnicity, gender, and even alcoholism (per the ADA, as long as it doesn't affect work performance), but stuff like this (private behavior) is out in the open. (Some states do have laws protecting from discrim. based on lifestyle, which would include things like this.)

Should companies be able to regulate private behavior? Can we not hire people because they eat junk food, engage in risky hobbies (motorcycling, parachuting), don't practice safe sex, etc? To what extent is this "okay" for companies to do?

Where would we draw the line? Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I can see what the company is going for and why they are doing it, I don't think this is that good of an idea. Health insurance companies do have a greater rate for those who smoke because of the obvious health risks, and if this employer was passing that cost on to the employees who do smoke, I think they would be making their point a little better and still trying to get people to stop smoking. Any way you do healthcare in groups, someone is probably paying less than they should and others more, so that problem would never really be solved. As to whether or not they can regulate private behavior, I would say no unless it interfers with their job, unless the private activity is illegal, then they might have a case.