Weyco may be one of the only large companies in the country that can boast not only a smoke-free workplace, but a smoke-free workforce. Achieving that status, however, didn’t come without a lot of effort—and controversy. Howard Weyers, the founder and CEO of the Michigan-based health-benefits-management company, attracted a lot of media attention—and the ire of workers’ advocates—when he let go four employees recently after they refused to stop smoking. Civil-rights activists accused the company of discrimination, arguing that Weyers was punishing workers for engaging in a legal activity on their own time. Weyers claimed that he gave his employees plenty of notice and opportunities and incentives to quit. “I gave them a little over 15 months to decide which is most important: my job or tobacco?” says Weyers. That’s a question that more Americans may be asking themselves these days. Most companies already ban tobacco use in the workplace and more than a half dozen states and hundreds of cities have enacted laws to the same effect. Now, citing rising health-insurance costs and concerns about employees’ well-being, a growing number of companies are refusing to hire people who smoke, even if they do so on their own time and nowhere near their jobs. An estimated 6,000 employers no longer hire smokers, according to the National Workrights Institute, an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Discuss with your peers how you would react in this type of situation. Should an employer have the right to not hire you solely based on the fact that you are a smoker? Why or why not?
Be sure to support your analysis with appropriate material from the text and outside web sites.
Dessler, G. (2013). Human Resource Management (13th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice
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