In our days smoking a cigarette is a choice that could keep a lot of workers out of a job. For example the Manatee County school region is considering employing only non-smokers workers. “We are targeting smokers. We are discriminating against smokers. It is a legal discrimination – because it is not based on race, confession, color, religion or even national origin,” declared Tim McGonegal, Superintendent of Manatee County Schools.
Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications for American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, reported also: “Even though we believe that this kind of act into a person’s personal life is an overstep by government, the Florida Supreme Court upheld in 1995 that it is legal to put such limitations on employees.”
New employees would be protected for nicotine and required to sign a testimony saying that they don’t smoke. Current employees would be grandfathered in.
But employees who continue to smoke cost employers money each year. According to the CDC, they cost more than $1,700 in productivity and more than $1,600 in extra medical expenses.
USF education major and future teacher Christine McDonald questions the policy’s fairness. And she recently quit smoking after five years smoking experience.
“It’s a freedom issue, something they are taking away from you. I don’t think it is right,” said Christine.
She also reported that the school district add an overcharge to an employee’s health insurance premium if they smoke.
Christine’s classmate, Jennifer McMullian, thinks that prohibiting smokers from the workplace is a good step. “I think it’s a good idea because teachers should be an example for students. They shouldn’t be smoking in front of students.”
School officials said that the district offers Wellness programs to help employees lead a healthy life and quit smoking. “This is a terrible addiction. It’s difficult to quit smoking. We are encouraging our employees to quit smoking through all kinds of anti-smoking programs,” declared McGonegal.
So, Manatee school district officials used a similar plan used by Sarasota County government. And it stopped hiring smokers in 2008.