Refusing to hire smokers

cigarettesjustice180_0The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a public employer can legitimately refuse to hire smokers. The City of North Miami implemented a policy in 1990 that required job applicants to sign a sworn statement that they had not smoked for at least a year prior to their application for employment with the city. One job applicant challenged the policy in court after she was not hired by the city as a clerk-typist because she had refused to sign the statement. The applicant claimed that the policy violated her Florida constitutional rights by prohibiting her from smoking in the privacy of her own home. The Supreme Court held that the policy could be enforced because the applicant did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy concerning smoking given the variety of ways in which smoking is prohibited in public. The Court reasoned that the multitude of existing smoking regulations had essentially reduced an individual’s expectation of privacy on the issue of smoking when applying for a government job. The Court was not willing to expand the decision to private employment. However, to date, smokers in Florida have no statutory protection. Employers can refuse to hire applicants who smoke. Likewise, most employers, subject to a few exceptions, can ban smoking on their premises if they choose, including outdoor areas.

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