This article was written by Attorney Amy DelPo, a writer for http://www.nolo.com. If you have issues about workplace smoking, whether you are an employee or an employeer, you should be aware of some guidelines – read on:
The days when smoking in the workplace was as accepted as drinking coffee are long gone. Concerns about the impact of second-hand smoke and the comfort of non-smokers have prompted most states to enact laws — commonly called “clean indoor air laws” — that severely restrict smoking in the workplace.
Six states prohibit smoking in all workplaces, both public and private: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Other states have a variety of laws that restrict smoking at work in one way or another — either by limiting smoking to designated areas, prohibiting smoking in only public (not private) workplaces, or prohibiting smoking in only certain types of workplaces (such as hospitals and restaurants). To find out about the law in your state, contact your state’s labor or health department. You can also find state-by-state information on clean indoor air laws in the CCH Business Owners’ Toolkit.
In addition to state laws, many cities and counties have enacted ordinances against smoking in the workplace. To find out whether your city or county has such an ordinance, contact your local government offices.
But beyond what is required by state or local law, any employer is free to ban smoking in its workplace, even if state law allows it: There is no law that protects your right to smoke at work. Many states, however, have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against smokers in work-related decisions — for example, making hiring or firing decisions based on whether an employee or potential employee smokes.
And, if your employer tries to prohibit you from smoking outside of the workplace, it may be invading your privacy rights. Some states specifically prohibit an employer from interfering with your right to smoke off the job.
In other states, however, the law is less clear. For example, a company in Michigan garnered major media attention in early 2005 after instituting a policy that prohibited workers from smoking at all — even off the job — in an effort to reduce its health care costs. A handful of employees refused to comply and were forced to leave the company. In response, a Michigan state senator introduced a bill to prevent such discrimination and protect employee privacy during nonwork hours throughout the state.
For information on smoking in your workplace, review your employer’s policies and contact your state and local labor or health agencies. And, if you are a smoker and would like help kicking the habit, check to see if your employer provides any assistance with or support for smoking cessation programs.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
~ Martin Luther King