Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smoking Laws for Employers

The American Lung Association website includes a great resource for employers regarding workplace smoking laws: a 50 state survey on tobacco laws. The project is called SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues).

Smoking raises several employment law issues, including the possibility of impermissible discrimination. Several states have Smoker Protection Laws. South Carolina's Smoker Protection Law, for example, provides:
The use of tobacco products outside the workplace must not be the basis of personnel action, including, but not limited to, employment, termination, demotion, or promotion of an employee. No specific penalties specified for violation.
S.C. CODE ANN. § 41-1-85 (1991). States also have

Here in Pennsylvania, we do not have a Smoker Protection Law. Recently, a Bethlehem, PA hospital made news when it announced that it would screen applicants for nicotine and only hire non-smokers. Pennsylvania does, however, have a Clean Indoor Air law that provides in part:
Smoking is prohibited in public places, defined by the law as an enclosed area which serves as a workplace, commercial establishment or an area where the public is invited or permitted.
35 PA. STAT §§ 637.1 to 637.11 (2008)(emphasis added).

Of course, there are numerous exceptions. Employers need to know the laws regarding smoking in their jurisdiction and implement their policies and practices accordingly.

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.