Smokers Need Not Apply
How much more shame, humiliation and ostracizing can people put on smokers and vapors? Well apparently more.
U-Haul recently announced it will no longer hire anyone who uses nicotine in any form in the 21 states where such hiring policies are legal. Yes there are 21 states that make it legal for businesses to discriminate against people who are doing something legal. I wonder if you can discriminate against people who are addicted to anything, for example fast food or drinking, in these same states.
Apparently there are a number of companies that have these nicotine-free hiring policies. Even the city of Dayton Ohio have joined this chorus of discrimination.
Harald Schmidt, a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that these policies disproportionately harms poor people. He stated in an NPR article that:
To me, this is more about fair equality of opportunity
He went on to say that smoking is a behavior, so he does not equate it with discriminating on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation. His concern is approximately 50% of unemployed people smoke.
He went on to say:
You’re basically posing a double-whammy on them…It’s very hard for them to get work, and it’s even harder for people who are already in a vulnerable situation.
A lawyer who represents employers and works with them on smoking policies Karen Buesing was quoted in the article stating:
Obviously, there are higher health care costs associated with smokers. And so many companies would much prefer to have a nonsmoking workforce…Certainly under federal law, smokers are not a protected class.
True but are there not higher cost for people who drink excessively or are struggling with a food addiction and are overweight. Should companies and governmental units start putting hiring restrictions on them?
The American Civil Liberties Union has come out against nicotine-free hiring. They actually call it "discrimination” as part of what they call "lifestyle discrimination."
In an ACLU legislative briefing they ask the following questions:
Should an employer be able to forbid an employee from going skiing? or riding a bicycle? or sunbathing on a Saturday afternoon?...All of these activities entail a health risk.
I find it interesting that I side with the ACLU on this one. As long as your smoking does not affect your job performance then how do you discriminate against someone who is doing something legal?