Where there's smoke, no hires

Where there's smoke, no hires

May 01, 2007

Q. We're hiring a new team member. Can we specify "no smokers" in our classified ad?

Karl Salzsieder
"I don't know of any states where a requirement for a nonsmoking employee is discriminatory," says Karl Salzsieder, DVM, JD, owner of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Kelso, Wash. But, he adds, it's best to call your state's human rights commission or code revisers to ensure your state doesn't have a specific law on that subject.

A general guideline: Your hiring policies shouldn't include any specific requirements that target a protected class. "In my home state of Washington, protected class issues are race, color, creed, nationality, disability, age if older than 40, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, retaliation—such as in the cases of whistleblowers—HIV, or hepatitis C," Dr. Salzsieder says. "Your state may have the same protected groups or a few less."

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