The jobs of three EVAC employees with more than 30 years of combined experience are up in smoke after they were found in violation of the county’s nicotine policy, a county spokesman confirmed Saturday.
If you haven’t read the article, read it here: http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/west-volusia/2011/12/18/volusia-paramedics-fired-for-smoking.html
I’ll start off by saying that legally, the terminations are valid and will most likely not be overturned. Whether you agree with the policy or not, it’s still written policy with clear language for what happens if you violate said policy. So yes, I think it’s sad that these experienced paramedics lost their jobs, but you can’t knowingly violate the rules and not expect to suffer the consequences.
Now, having said that, I must say that I think the policy is 100% BS.
“I was terminated for something I do at home and is perfectly legal,” said Mike Stone, who had worked as a paramedic for EVAC for 5 1/2 years.
I completely agree. As of right now, smoking is still legal and it doesn’t impair your ability to think rationally or function in the workplace. If they don’t want their employees smoking while on duty, then that’s OK. They have that right. But to try and dictate what their employees do in their personal lives is plain wrong.
For many of us, a nicotine-free policy wouldn’t have any affect, but what’s important is that the employer has already demonstrated that they are willing to tell you what you can and can’t do in your own time. Sure, it might not affect me now, but what happens when they decide that they don’t want to hire anyone that consumes caffeine or alcohol on their days off?
Smokers may not be a “protected classification” but I still view policies like this as discriminatory. Regardless of how much they spin this as an attempt to improve the health and well-being of their employees, it still comes down to them determining employment eligibility based on lifestyle choices. Of course, they won’t put people with high cholesterol on the chopping block, because that would most likely eliminate all of management. Eliminating people because they have bad habits seems fine and well until it’s THEIR bad habit that makes the hit list.
Maybe I’m just old-school, but I would think they would be better off addressing things like work performance or attendance. Then again, I’m just a dumb-ass paramedic, what do I know?