Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 25, 2005

Fired for Smoking?

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:41 pm

WRAL reports:

Company Fires All Employees Who Smoke

Michigan Firm Won’t Allow Smoking, Even On Employee’s Own Time

UPDATED: 8:20 AM EST January 25, 2005

LANSING, Mich. — Four employees of a health care company have been fired for refusing to take a test to determine whether they smoke cigarettes.

Weyco Inc., a health benefits administrator based in Okemos, Mich., adopted a policy Jan. 1 that allows employees to be fired if they smoke, even if the smoking happens after business hours or at home.

Company founder Howard Weyers has said the anti-smoking rule was designed to shield the firm from high health care costs. “I don’t want to pay for the results of smoking,” he said.

The rule led one employee to quit before the policy was adopted. Four others were fired when they balked at the smoking test.

Note that if they wanted their employees to take lie-detector tests about (say) stealing from the company on the job, they would be required by federal law to prove that it was related to an acutal economic loss, and they would not be able to fire employees who refused to take the test.

But if if they want employers to take a tobacco test to see if they smoke on their own time, they get to fire anyone who refuses.

But this about company-paid health care costs, so it really is the company’s business, right? Well, supposed they made a rule that employees weren’t allowed to engage in promiscuous unprotected sex, which could lead to high health care costs from AIDS. Could they require tests for sexually transmitted dieseases to make sure employees weren’t engaging in promiscuity “after business hours or at home”? Could they cite higher AIDS rates among homosexuals and fire employees for engaging in homosexual behavior?

Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here?

2 Responses to “Fired for Smoking?”

  1. Karl Says:

    There’s also the fact that most smokers wind up shortening their retirement years. Some have estimated that if you had allowed for this fact during the tobacco litigation, the litigating states would have owed money to the tobacco companies.

  2. Different River Says:

    Social Security and Medicare are federal programs. How would the states save money with tobacco?

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