Written up for smoking on my break? Is this legal?

I was written up at work today for smoking on my break. I work at a gym, and my boss had aleady told me this was not allowed. I have been there for over a year and this "new" policy was never outlined before I was verbally told I couldn't smoke while I was at work. I was outside, behind the gym. Is this legal?

1 answer  |  asked Jan 9, 2008 3:37 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
No right to smoke

Your question seems to assume that your employer cannot regulate your conduct in the workplace. First, I assume your employment can be terminated at any time, with or without cause. This is called "at will" employment, and it applies to most employees in the private sector unless you are covered by a union contract or you have an employment contract that gives you some kind of job security. That being the case, your employer is free to "write you up" for anything the employer considers undesirable conduct. The only protections against adverse actions by an employer that do not amount to a termination are found in the civil rights laws, and these laws only protect against discrimination on account of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age and disability. There is no law protecting your "right" to smoke. Smoking is not a Constitutionally protected right, and even if it were, a private employer's decisions are not regulated by the Constitution. On the contrary, many laws and ordinances have recently been enacted all over the country restricting smoking. The fact that the law does not prohibit smoking outdoors does not turn it into a protected right.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jan 9, 2008 4:05 PM [EST]

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