From Cancer Sticks to Drumsticks: How Far Should Employers Go When It Comes to Employees’ Health?

Workplace discrimination based on smoking habits and tobacco use has garnered national attention as a wide-spread employment practice.  Weyco, Inc. was the first large employer to make the news for its tough stance against smoking when it fired several employees after they failed to quit smoking.  Its actions have been at the center of the debate of an employer’s right to control the on- and off-duty conduct of its employees.  (See the list of prior posts on this topic, below). 


Now, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization perhaps best known for throwing blood on people wearing furs, has called on Weyco to take its policy to the next level. PETA has written to Weyco President Howard Weyers urging him to hire only vegetarians.

In its letter, PETA points out that the consumption of meat and other animal products has been conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer, and obesity. PETA also recommends that the company provide employees with free vegetarian lunches–a program that PETA is offering to help implement–to improve the health of the company’s current employees.

“When you take into consideration all the diseases that have been linked to meat consumption, it adds up to a mountain of health care costs,” says PETA’s Ashley Byrne. “Discouraging smoking is a great idea, but if Weyco really wants to get serious about cutting costs, it’ll urge its employees to ditch drumsticks as well as cancer sticks.”


Other Posts on Smoking in the Workplace:

A Whirlpool of Excitement about Rights of Employees Who Smoke

Delaware Employers & Smoking Employees (Part 1) Smoking Breaks

Delaware Employers & Smoking Employees (Part 2) Charging Smokers Higher Health Care Premiums

Delaware Employers & Employees Who Smoke (Part 3) Employee Incentive Programs Targeted to Smokers

Delaware Employers & Employees Who Smoke (Part 4)

Employer Quits Its Smoking Policy

Not Everyone Is Fired Up About Smoking Ban