The Los Angeles Employment Attorney Services blog is an online portal of elite group of employment and labor law attorneys of Mesriani Law Group.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Smokers Protected under California Employment Law

According to California’s labor law, discriminating smokers in the workplace is strictly prohibited. Under the said law, although workers are not allowed to smoke within the workplace, employers cannot fire them when they instead smoke outside.

Nowadays, employment discriminatory practices are fast becoming common place among employers. Recently, the State of California has banned smoking in the workplace.

In other states, smoking even outside the workplace can be a reason for employers to fire an employee. Some hospitals actually have an employment practice of terminating smokers from their job. A few years ago, several hospitals, like The Cleveland Clinic, began testing employees for smoking and are now firing employees who can’t avoid the habit.

The major dispute concerning such practice is that smokers have higher health insurance premiums that most companies cannot afford. Other than that, smokers are not as productive as non-smokers. Employers affirm that smokers tend to have more days of absences for health problems than non-smokers.

In California, discrimination against smokers in the workplace is unlawful. Such statute is clearly noted under California’s employment law.

Several lines stated at the California Labor Code section 98.6 and 96 are quoted as follows:  

"no person shall discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant engaged in conduct delineated in this chapter, including" "lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer's premises."    

Obviously, employees cannot smoke in the workplace, but then, smoking outside the workplace cannot be used as a reason for their termination.

Meanwhile, several California employment discrimination lawyers suggest to employers that they should provide smoking employees a little consideration through an attempt of rehabilitation process or counseling to give up their nicotine addiction. They claim that said process will not only reduce smokers in the workplace but also lower the risk of smoking-induced diseases to both smokers and second-hand smokers.

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