Can a company refuse to hire an employee who smokes?
The hiring process involves a great number of details as well as legal considerations. As more people continue to adopt healthier habits, some businesses are motivated to encourage healthy behavior. As a result, they may not want to hire employees with unhealthy habits, like smoking.
Smoking continues to be banned in more places, like restaurants and within proximity of certain buildings. According to an article in Forbes, 440,000 people die from smoking each year. Some companies may not want to hire a prospective employee who smokes, but there are legal considerations that come into play before making such a decision.
As HR Morning explains, smokers are not categorized as a class, meaning that they do not receive hiring protections under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, 29 states offer protections for smokers, including the District of Columbia.
Businesses operating in those states cannot refuse to hire simply based on the fact that a person is a smoker. There are ethical considerations to go along with this idea. While reducing smoking may have an eventual positive effect for society, there are other steps businesses can take, like implementing a smoking cessation program for employees and encouraging them to adopt healthier habits.
While, it's possible that smokers might have more health related issues, opinions differ as to what the appropriate approach to curtail smoking is. Businesses may believe they are taking steps to save lives by banning smokers during the hiring process, but legal and ethical considerations should be strongly considered before implementing such a policy.
When developing any hiring policy, companies must be sure that every detail is accounted for. HR software solutions can help develop the HR system to manage each aspect of hiring.