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Weyco fires 4 employees for refusing smoking test
AP ^ | 1-24-05

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.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: employmentatwill; freedomofcontract; health; puff; pufflist; smoke; weyco; wodlist; workplace
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I think the policy sucks(and I almost never smoke cigarettes), but it is a private company and they have right to dictate their own so I defend it on that basis.

If it's big government, then it's another story.

1 posted on 01/24/2005 12:38:49 PM PST by Dan from Michigan
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To: Dan from Michigan

This will not last long. Those smokers will become rich. It's a legal product, used legally.


2 posted on 01/24/2005 12:39:54 PM PST by Fierce Allegiance (GO PATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: Dan from Michigan

I agree with all your points.


3 posted on 01/24/2005 12:40:18 PM PST by mlbford2 ("Never wrestle with a pig; you can't win, you just get filthy, and the pig loves it...")
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To: SheLion; Gabz

Ping


4 posted on 01/24/2005 12:41:09 PM PST by Dan from Michigan ("We clearly screwed up on the communications," Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick - after caught in a lie.)
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To: Dan from Michigan
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.

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.

5 posted on 01/24/2005 12:42:32 PM PST by SAJ
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To: Dan from Michigan
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.

I guess he would know.

Still, I can't support firing people for something they do away from the job.

6 posted on 01/24/2005 12:43:30 PM PST by Tall_Texan (Let's REALLY Split The Country! (http://righteverytime3.blogspot.com))
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To: Dan from Michigan

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.


7 posted on 01/24/2005 12:43:48 PM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Vote for true conservatives!)
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To: Fierce Allegiance

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.


8 posted on 01/24/2005 12:43:50 PM PST by HamiltonJay
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To: Dan from Michigan

Should the company also be allowed to bar people from having sex because maternity leave is so expensive to the bottom line?


9 posted on 01/24/2005 12:44:14 PM PST by Tarpaulin (Look it up.)
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To: SAJ

Absolutely false!

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.


10 posted on 01/24/2005 12:44:41 PM PST by HamiltonJay
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To: Dan from Michigan

Will they fire all of the fat employees?


11 posted on 01/24/2005 12:44:47 PM PST by Bahbah
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To: Bikers4Bush

I just say that this "This company isn't worth my business".


12 posted on 01/24/2005 12:45:01 PM PST by Dan from Michigan ("We clearly screwed up on the communications," Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick - after caught in a lie.)
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To: Fierce Allegiance
It's a legal product, used legally.

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?

13 posted on 01/24/2005 12:45:56 PM PST by KC_Conspirator (This space outsourced to India)
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To: Dan from Michigan

I wonder if they drug test.


14 posted on 01/24/2005 12:45:56 PM PST by Pest (My reality check bounced!)
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To: Dan from Michigan

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.


15 posted on 01/24/2005 12:46:05 PM PST by WHBates
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To: Dan from Michigan

They're within their rights but it's still outrageous. Workers should have their free time and their privacy.


16 posted on 01/24/2005 12:46:17 PM PST by withteeth
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To: Dan from Michigan

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?


17 posted on 01/24/2005 12:46:32 PM PST by FreePaul
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To: Bikers4Bush

I hope they start walking to work, too. Cars kill and maim at a higher rate, I believe.


18 posted on 01/24/2005 12:46:55 PM PST by Cletus.D.Yokel (lex orandi, lex credendi)
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To: SAJ
...no company has any legitimate power to control the lawful activities of any employee off-site and off company time.

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.

19 posted on 01/24/2005 12:47:41 PM PST by TChris (Most people's capability for inference is severely overestimated)
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To: Fierce Allegiance

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^>


20 posted on 01/24/2005 12:48:34 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: Dan from Michigan
but it is a private company and they have right to dictate their own

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!

21 posted on 01/24/2005 12:49:41 PM PST by JimVT (I was born a Democrat..but then I grew up)
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To: SAJ

>>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.


22 posted on 01/24/2005 12:50:59 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: Dan from Michigan
Now that's funny.
23 posted on 01/24/2005 12:51:32 PM PST by Wolfie
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To: FreePaul
"I don't blame them for trying to reduce health care costs"

I don't believe it would, but they might think so???
24 posted on 01/24/2005 12:52:17 PM PST by WHBates
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To: WHBates

>>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.


25 posted on 01/24/2005 12:52:36 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: WHBates
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.

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.

26 posted on 01/24/2005 12:52:59 PM PST by trumandogz
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To: SAJ
"This chap's asking for a lawsuit larger than he can afford."

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....

27 posted on 01/24/2005 12:53:01 PM PST by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

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.


28 posted on 01/24/2005 12:53:03 PM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Vote for true conservatives!)
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To: Dan from Michigan

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?


29 posted on 01/24/2005 12:53:35 PM PST by libbylu
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To: RobRoy
If only there was a "fast food" test. They'd save even more.

Greasey fingers and Mickey D's bags in the trash can?......along with a 45" Waist line?.......

30 posted on 01/24/2005 12:53:51 PM PST by Red Badger (And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you FReep!........)
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To: RobRoy
Boy, I would! No more smoke wafting in from the open doors by the smoking areas.

LOL, Do you work in a hut????
31 posted on 01/24/2005 12:57:06 PM PST by WHBates
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

climes declares a victory! A victory for whom? The Sanctimonious smoking Nannies...


32 posted on 01/24/2005 12:57:06 PM PST by George Norris
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To: RobRoy
Well I just dropped Alaska Airline from my favorites. This type of company behavior is a slippery slope. Do they prohibit risky sexual behavior? (Probably not)
33 posted on 01/24/2005 12:57:28 PM PST by investigateworld (Babies= A sure sign He hasn't given up on mankind!)
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To: Dan from Michigan

Wait untill the CEO determines his employees eating of junk food is costing him money in healthcare costs.


34 posted on 01/24/2005 12:59:49 PM PST by L98Fiero
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To: WHBates

>> 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.


35 posted on 01/24/2005 12:59:56 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: azhenfud
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....

I wonder if this company offers same sex partner benefits?

36 posted on 01/24/2005 1:01:58 PM PST by trumandogz
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To: Bahbah
Will they fire all of the fat employees?

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.

37 posted on 01/24/2005 1:05:29 PM PST by afnamvet
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To: trumandogz

Weyco is a benefits management company. Michigan State University uses their services to manage the Health Care Spending Accounts (among other things)

http://www.weyco.com/web/


38 posted on 01/24/2005 1:07:44 PM PST by garyb
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To: RobRoy

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


39 posted on 01/24/2005 1:07:55 PM PST by WHBates
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To: Dan from Michigan
"That is absolutely a victory," Climes said.
Yes but for who?
This goes WAY too far!
40 posted on 01/24/2005 1:09:01 PM PST by GrandEagle
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To: L98Fiero

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.


41 posted on 01/24/2005 1:09:04 PM PST by hunter112 (Total victory, both in the USA and the Middle East!)
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To: Dan from Michigan
They do as a private company have the right to decide who works for them and who doesn't. They can show statistically that smokers will have more health care costs and risk missing work and lowering productivity.

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.

42 posted on 01/24/2005 1:10:01 PM PST by Sender (Team Infidel USA)
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To: investigateworld

>>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.


43 posted on 01/24/2005 1:12:32 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: SAJ

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.


44 posted on 01/24/2005 1:12:42 PM PST by glorgau
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To: Dan from Michigan

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?


45 posted on 01/24/2005 1:14:13 PM PST by thoughtomator (Meet the new Abbas, same as the old Abbas)
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To: All

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.


46 posted on 01/24/2005 1:14:17 PM PST by Niteranger68 ("I am not a conservative because I am successful; I am successful because I am a conservative.")
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To: trumandogz

The one I work for? No. It's a privately owned business. Why do you ask?


47 posted on 01/24/2005 1:18:36 PM PST by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: HamiltonJay


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!


48 posted on 01/24/2005 1:18:45 PM PST by Riddick (<---------- Red state guy stuck in a barely blue state.)
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To: RobRoy

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.


49 posted on 01/24/2005 1:22:37 PM PST by thoughtomator (Meet the new Abbas, same as the old Abbas)
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To: SAJ

With luck, the lawsuit will bankrupt the company and send all the folks who betrayed their smoking co-workers to the unemployment lines.


50 posted on 01/24/2005 1:25:15 PM PST by thoughtomator (Meet the new Abbas, same as the old Abbas)
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