Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Smoker's Suit Hits a Nerve


When you think of The Scott's Company you probably think about issues with your lawn (assuming that you think of them at all). But this winter, they are in the news for an employment matter. As with a few other companies, Scott's has adopted not just no smoking, but a no smoker policy.

Which led to the following, as summed up in the lead in a Boston Herald story:
A Buzzards Bay man peed into a cup and lost his job when the Scott Co. discovered he’d been inhaling more than the chemicals he sprayed on lawns - he was allegedly smoking cigarettes - according to a lawsuit he filed.
You might not be surprised to know that the employee has filed suit alleging violations of his privacy rights, but what is a unusual is the response it has caused. One web site, Do No Evil , already has more than 200 posts — although mixed, most comments were along these lines:
Our freedom is being chipped away at, little by little, always in the name of a perceived good. Allowing this to go on will at some point in time transform us to semi zombies at the beck and call of the righteous ones. Everything we do will become sanctioned for the "good of all". Free will, free expression, free movement, free thought will cease to exist as we know it today. Is this really the road we wish to travel on ???
Out of the Jungle did some great work in coming up with additional sources on the whole issue, and offered this point of view:

I am a non-smoker who is very grateful for the societal changes that reduce my exposure to second-hand smoke. But even I found it pretty disturbing that an employer would think it right to control employees' private behavior. It leads to all sorts of disturbing scenarios that have been raised as testing for various diseases and genetic pre-disposition for disease became possible.

A hat tip to Jon Coppelman at The Worker's Comp Insider for his post, Where There's Smoke, You're Fired, Revisited.

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