“More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime.” That is the opening line of an article on USA Today’s Money website. I will defer to the news organization and the author of the piece but, to be frank, I have doubts about the objective veracity of that statement. I am certain, however, that this story is not a new one. Continue reading
Can employers refuse to hire applicants for their tobacco use? In most states, the answer is “yes.” Unless the candidate is applying for a job in a State with a “smokers’-rights statute,” an employer can refuse to hire candidates who smoke.
According to the Texas Employment Law Update, that’s exactly what one of North Texas’ largest employers has announced it will do. Baylor Health Care Systems announced that it will not hire or consider for hire any candidate who uses any nicotine product. This is additional evidence of a continuing trend in health care.
A new opinion from the Delaware Superior Court sheds light on when off-duty conduct justifies an employee’s termination for purposes of denying unemployment benefits. Because Delaware is an at-will state, it is well established that an employer may terminate an employee for off-duty conduct. However, an employer must have “just cause” for termination in order to avoid payment of unemployment benefits. The Superior Court’s opinion clarifies that an employee’s off-duty conduct must have a non-speculative impact on the employer’s business in order to constitute “just cause” for termination. Continue reading
Not all workplace discrimination is unlawful. For example, employers can refuse to hire candidates who will not wear necessary safety equipment. That is discrimination. That is not unlawful discrimination. One type of employment discrimination that is not unlawful in some states is discrimination against smokers or, more usually, discrimination based on tobacco use. Continue reading
By now, we should all be well aware that our out-of-office conduct can result in discipline or termination in the workplace. Never has this been more true than today, when people document their entire lives online, leaving cyber-footprints everywhere they go. Sadly, this was a lesson learned too late by Congressman Christopher Lee. Continue reading
Employees’ rights to free speech seems to become a hot topic right around election time. During a very rare interview with Larry King last night, Supreme Court Justice Breyer discussed the importance of free speech. Larry, being the inquisitive interviewer that he is, asked Justice Breyer about Reverend Terry Jones’s highly controversial decision to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11.
Employers everywhere are facing new challenges when it comes to employees’ use of social media. These technology-based challenges are different, though, for every employer and have different nuances between industries. Certain employees’ off-duty posts on social-networking sites, such as Facebook, can have significantly more impact than others. Police officers are one such type of employee. Continue reading