Skip to comments.Weyco fires 4 employees for refusing smoking test
Posted on 01/24/2005 12:38:46 PM PST by Dan from Michigan
Weyco fires 4 employees for refusing smoking test
1/24/2005, 2:50 p.m. ET
The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) Four employees of Okemos-based health benefits administrator Weyco Inc. have been fired for refusing to take a test that would determine whether they smoke cigarettes.
The company instituted a policy on Jan. 1 that makes it a firing offense to smoke even if done after business hours or at home, the Lansing State Journal reported Monday.
Weyco founder Howard Weyers said previously that he instituted the tough anti-smoking rule to shield his company from high health care costs.
"I don't want to pay for the results of smoking," he said.
The anti-smoking rule led one employee to quit work before the policy went into place. Since Jan. 1, four more people were shown the door when they balked at the anti-smoking test.
"They were terminated at that point," said Chief Financial Officer Gary Climes.
Even so, Weyco said, the policy has been successful. Climes estimated that about 18 to 20 of the company's 200 employers were smokers when the policy was announced in 2003.
Of those, as many as 14 quit smoking before the policy went into place. Weyco offered them smoking cessation help, Climes said.
"That is absolutely a victory," Climes said.
If it's big government, then it's another story.
This will not last long. Those smokers will become rich. It's a legal product, used legally.
I agree with all your points.
This chap's asking for a lawsuit larger than he can afford. If MI's laws resemble MO's, this CEO has a MAJOR problem on his hands...or will shortly.
I guess he would know.
Still, I can't support firing people for something they do away from the job.
So should they be allowed to test for alcohol too? What if sex is shown to cause heart attacks can they command their employees to stop doing that too?
I can only HOPE that these folks take this company to the cleaners.
And let me clarify that I do not smoke.
Those smokers aren't going to become rich off of being fired for refusing to comply with a private companies policy... Only check they can get is Unemployment.
More companies are going to do this... and as much as smokers don't like it, its reality.
Should the company also be allowed to bar people from having sex because maternity leave is so expensive to the bottom line?
You can be fired for engaging in lawful activity in your personal life outside of work hours... whoever told you that lie, doesn't know what they are talking about.
Will they fire all of the fat employees?
I just say that this "This company isn't worth my business".
There have been companies like this for over a decade. While your point is well taken, what have been the lawsuit results against a private company?
I wonder if they drug test.
I don't think I would want to want to work for such a company. But I agree that they can do whatever they want to do.
They're within their rights but it's still outrageous. Workers should have their free time and their privacy.
I don't blame them for trying to reduce health care costs. I wonder if they ban other practices that cause increased health care costs. Maybe something like risky sexual behavior?
I hope they start walking to work, too. Cars kill and maim at a higher rate, I believe.
I agree. They should simply be barred from the company's health insurance policy. As long as the company is paying for their health benefits, I'd say they have a right to address an employee's health.
My daughter-in-law had to drop out of the running for a job at Alaska Airlines becuase she smokes. They taka a drug test and if you have smoked in the last six months it is expected to show up. They ask you if you smoke. If you say yes, you are out - no exceptions.
This job was a tremendous opportunity for her and she has discovered just how much smoking can really "cost."
Alaska gets massive reductions in health care costs by not hiring smokers. If only there was a "fast food" test. They'd save even more. 8^>
That is a myth that is being challenged regularly.
I smoked for years and quit of my own volition.
If this company wants to avoid medical costs for employees who smoke they should write a policy that excludes coverage for emphysema, et al.
But what are they going to do when one of their employees who quit smoking because of their scare tactics, then retires THEN becomes ill with a smoke related disease?
Better get some Clinton mouthpieces on retainer!
>>Actually, whether public or private, no company has any legitimate power to control the lawful activities of any employee off-site and off company time.<<
You're right. Now, if the employee can just find a way to purge the effects of the tobacco from their system before work every day...
A better solution, in my book, would be to just not offer health benefits to smoking employees, or offer the "expensive" plan.
>>I don't think I would want to want to work for such a company. But I agree that they can do whatever they want to do.<<
Boy, I would! No more smoke wafting in from the open doors by the smoking areas.
Very bad policy but I think they have the right to have such a policy. Just as I believe a company or organization can exclude gays, non-Christians, or Christians.
Not if it's like the deal I have with my employer. So long as neither the employee nor covered spouse or any dependants smoke, health insurance on a family plan is paid for. If I choose to smoke, it's up to me to find my insurer and pay their rate. It's not fair to other employees who abide by the rules to have to absorb the additional claims born by smokers - and certainly not fair to my employer....
An excellent point.
It's a short jump from telling you that you can't do something deemed unhealthy to telling you that you HAVE to do certain things that are healthy.
Like walk 2 miles a day etc.
many questions, do covered dependents have to be screened for smoking? how long do you have to be quit for it to be out of the system? is it like say pot, that household products will make urine and mouth swab tests negative? and what if i smoked four packs a day for thirty years, quit and went to work for them?
and don't fat people have more illnesses and lost days at work?
are health insurance rates significantly lower for nonsmokers?
Greasey fingers and Mickey D's bags in the trash can?......along with a 45" Waist line?.......
climes declares a victory! A victory for whom? The Sanctimonious smoking Nannies...
Wait untill the CEO determines his employees eating of junk food is costing him money in healthcare costs.
>> LOL, Do you work in a hut????<<
No, as a contractor, I worked for several companies in the last five years. In every case, the smoke would inevitably blow through open doors into the building. In one case, I was on the forth floor and when the wind blew just right, everyong was commenting on the stench of the smokers coming into our areas.
It' is remarkably common. It is why many buildings do not allow smoking within 50 feet of the building.
I wonder if this company offers same sex partner benefits?
That will be next. Pacific Telephone and Telegraph's policy was to screen potential employee's by weight. Some employees, as a condition of employment, had to lose x number of pounds by a certain date. Fail the weigh in meant immediate dismissal. If your made the weigh in by that date, you could weigh as much as you wanted from then on. I know...it happened to me. I made the weigh in.
Weyco is a benefits management company. Michigan State University uses their services to manage the Health Care Spending Accounts (among other things)
I'm also a contractor and as such I have to live with whatever I have to live with. I smoke and live with the rules that apply. I guess that proves that I can quit any time I want. LOL
Correct, but the real outrage will come when you can't get health coverage through your employment (or anywhere else) if you have the wrong DNA. They might not detect every Twinkie I sneak, but I can't get away from my genetics.
OTOH, what about people who ride motorcycles? Or water skiiers? Or climbers, bicyclists? Hunters? All could be considered as taking some measure of risk that could become a liability for the company.
Do we really want companies specifying Stepford employees?
BTW, I lost my job after 15 years on Friday, due to be replaced by two people at lower cost. Or by Indian call centers. Who knows.
>>Do they prohibit risky sexual behavior?<<
nope. Just smoking. BTW, my wife works there and loves it. Employee morale is high and the company still has a strong "family values" atmosphere.
The rabbid pro-smoking crowd can support their own circle of companies for as long as this habit holds on (not much longer, probably).
I'm all for smokers rights, but it's health effects are clear. I am a republican and support a companies right to choose who they hire based on their own rules.
A company saying that it doesn't want smokers is the equivalent to saying it doesn't want gay men. The health costs are so much higher for all the various stuff they seem to pick up. The same argument could be made for obese (fat) people.
The health care costs of homosexuality make smokers look cheap. One AIDS patient can equal hundreds of smokers' worth of health care costs. Shouldn't a company also be able to fire on that basis?
Just wait a minute. They can't have it both ways. If second-hand smoke is just as dangerous as actual smoking, shouldn't this test show positive for non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke? Then, wouldn't they be wrongly fired for something they didn't do? So, either second-hand smoke is harmless, or this test is faulty.
The one I work for? No. It's a privately owned business. Why do you ask?
I think you are wrong. This is a clear case of infringing on the rights of employees to pursue legal activities in their time away from work. The employer can control what happens in the work place and could probably make a case for setting this as a condition of employment but to institute the practice with existing employees and then terminate their livelyhood is despicable.
For whatever reason what if an employer decided everyone had to run a marathon, excercise ten hours a week and become a vegetarian in order to continue employment?
If I was in their shoes the phone line to my lawyer would be BURNING up!
Smokers are not the group that costs the most in health care costs. Fat people cost more to take care of as do homosexuals. And of course there are people with inborn disabilities who cost an immense amount to care for as well. Continuing along that line of thought, women cost more in health care than men because women require more specialized services and live longer. People with children will cost more than single people, as their kids are covered by their policy.
On the other hand, black people cost less because they die earlier, requiring far less of the mega-expensive care given to many elderly.
For a more dramatic example... could a company fire a woman because she doesn't want to abort her child? Pregnancy costs companies a LOT of money, and having a child adds to the company's cost because the child is covered.
While your prejudice against smokers isn't the worst thing in the world, the case you are supporting now will be used against you in the future. Maybe Democrats cost less than Republicans to take care of. If so, you can count on this boomerang returning with great speed in one form or another.
Employers must respect the freedoms of their employees. Otherwise they are not employees, they are slaves.
With luck, the lawsuit will bankrupt the company and send all the folks who betrayed their smoking co-workers to the unemployment lines.