#1  
Unread 06-19-2002, 02:51 AM
Watson
 
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Default Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

Like many other companies that have complained on here before, our Tennessee company has a big problem with the smokers taking advantage of company time. Around here, if you need to conduct business with an employee that smokes, you must go sit with them on the picnic table out back. Unfortunately, this is no joke. I am preparing to start the interview process for a new HR Assistant and don't want an assistant that sits at the picnic table all day! Can I legally ask candidates if they are smokers and then remove them from my short list of candidates if they say yes or refuse to answer?
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  #2  
Unread 06-19-2002, 05:19 AM
Ruskanen
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 06-19-02 AT 11:24AM (CST)[/font][p]In situations like this I always try to take a step back and ask, "What is the real issue?" Is the problem that the employees are smoking or that they are spending too much time outside? Our employees are given two 10 minute breaks. They are not "smoke breaks" and smokers are not allowed more break time than non-smokers. Everyone is given the same amount of time to do what they need to do during break time. Your issue is, they are spending too much time away from their desk and they need to be reprimanded. I'm a non-smoker and my HR Assistant is a non-smoker as well, but he likes to take short "smoke breaks" outside with the smokers to decompress.
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  #3  
Unread 06-19-2002, 07:37 AM
Rockie
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

I agree with Ruskanen. This is an abuse of time, not a smoking issue. We have this problem with at least one large department as these folks like to go on smoke breaks en masse. They leave a trail of tobacco smoke odor in their wake in the elevators and the bathrooms when they return. They have had to be counseled on several occasions for too many folks being gone from their work stations and taking too many breaks. This works for a while, but then they drop back to their old habits. It is a case of constant reinforcement.

By the way, you can normally tell if a person is a smoker by the odor on their hair and clothes. This is difficult to hide.


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  #4  
Unread 06-19-2002, 08:04 AM
Watson
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

I agree with you both but our smoking problem here is not going to be solved. Management refuses to confront the issue. So I am faced with trying to hire someone that doesn't become part of the problem. Once hired, it is very hard to reprimand someone for doing something that quite a few in the office do without reprimand. So that leaves me back to my original question - Can I ask a prospective employee if they are a smoker during their interview?
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  #5  
Unread 06-20-2002, 03:14 AM
Don D
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

Sure, ask them. There's currently no federal law offering protected status to a smoker. Don't hire one that dips or curses too much either!
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  #6  
Unread 06-20-2002, 04:40 AM
Margaret Morford
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

Don's right. There are no federal laws protecting smokers rights. Tennessee doesn't currently have a state law that protects smokers rights, but many other states and local municipalities do. They also have laws on the books that prohibit discrimination based on life style. Smoking can be argued to come under those laws. For those of you reading the Forum, be sure you check local and state laws before asking about smoking.

Margaret Morford
theHRedge
615-371-8200
mmorford@mleesmith.com
http://www.thehredge.net
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  #7  
Unread 06-21-2002, 02:43 AM
LES1959
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

In many states, you cannot ask this and cannot use it as a factor in hiring decisions. Check your state law to see whether or not it has a "lawful consumable products" or "participation in lawful activities" law. These laws were enacted in many states after pressure from the tobacco lobby. In Minnesota and North Dakota, for example, you cannot refuse to hire a smoker, although you can prohibit smoking in the workplace.
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  #8  
Unread 06-21-2002, 03:54 AM
Miriam George
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

I am from Oklahoma, and in our state, it is not legally permissible to ask a prospective employee about their tobacco use. Too bad because our reason for wanting to ask was not due to excessive break times, but because of the health risks we know to be associated with tobacco use.
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  #9  
Unread 06-21-2002, 06:36 AM
franfields
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

Anyway know if Arkansas restricts asking the question?
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  #10  
Unread 06-21-2002, 07:48 AM
Don D
 
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Default RE: Can you ask if they smoke during job interview?

Fran: It's Friday. Don't tempt me! (smile) You know how Arkansas and Mississippi thank each other for the other's existence on the charts.
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