At my current workplace they are stating that if employees smell like smoke they will be asked to go home and change their clothes. Accured time will be used for time spent away from work to change and if they are sent home for smelling like smoke four or more times they will be terminated. Is this legal? Cigarettes are not illegal, so can an employer do this. Employees are not allowed to smoke during the work shift. This includes breaks and lunch breaks. Is this legal?
Yes, this is legal in most states. A few states like Wisconsin have laws that protect an employees right to engage in lawful behavior outside of work hours, like smoking. But in most other states, this would be perfectly legal. In fact, the employer could just refuse to hire smokers or fire anyone who smoked.
Employers can make the workplace non-smoking. They can require that employees remain on the non-smoking premises during meal breaks and rest breaks, and refrain from smoking. Our best guess is that some employees have been sneaking cigarettes during breaks. Rather than try to catch them, the employer is using the sniff test to weed them out. (Smokers frequently forget that even after one cigarette, to non-smokers their hair and clothes reek of tobacco smoke.) Obviously, if the employee did not smell like smoke at 8 am, and she does at noon, she has been smoking. That is the real issue this technique is addressing, and it sounds like it is effective.
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32 Responses to “Can an employee be terminated for smelling like smoke?”
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