Work rules erode personal freedoms

What others say

Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2005

Quitting time has taken on a whole new meaning at one Michigan company. On Jan. 1, Weyco Inc., a health benefits administrator, went smoke free. Good news for employees' health.

But this no-smoking policy goes way beyond the office door. Employees who smoke, even at home, will be fired. Bad news for employees' rights.

Four of Weyco's 200 employees were fired last month for refusing to take a test to determine if they had been smoking. The company now performs random testing to ensure compliance with its policy.

Yes, smoking causes health problems. But so does obesity. So does unsafe sex. And so can downhill skiing, sky diving or driving while putting on your makeup or cleaning out your home's gutters. Which ones should get you fired? Exactly how much of what you do should your employer control? ...

But (Weyco's) attempt to dictate (its) employees off-work behavior is disturbing, particularly because it is perfectly legal. Michigan is one of 29 states that have so-called ''at-will'' employment laws. That means employees can be fired for virtually any reason or no reason at all.

Legal scholars say the only reason state Legislatures don't put a stop to at-will laws is there is no strong lobbying effort to get it done. Maybe this will light a fire under some people. It should.

— Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.

Feb. 9



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