Fridley, Minnesota — A woman says she was fired for smoking at home, well away from her hospital workplace, because co-workers insisted that despite strong measures taken to avoid smelling like smoke, they still knew that Stephanie Cannon was lighting up a cig every once in a while.
If ever there was a reviled activity in our society nowadays, it’s smoking. Smokers are being pushed out of mainstream society and further and further away from the entrances of buildings, in some cases even being prevented from smoking in their own homes.
Private businesses have the right to fire at will, however, and it seems that just for being a smoker — even though she followed all rules and a bunch of really, really oppressive regulations concerning her own out-of-the-workplace smoking — Stephanie Cannon’s habit of smoking when she was all the way back at her house managed to get her the ax.
According to Cannon, the requests to curb the smoke smell — which is seems many people believe, rather than smoke itself, is responsible for smoking-related diseases — began almost immediately. Soon Cannon was adhering to a head-spinning regimen of clothes-bagging, Febreezing and even a request she shower at work instead of at her house, but it wasn’t enough for Park Nicollet Health Services, where she worked as a receptionist.
Cannon says that there were no “performance related” issues, but the center decided to let her go for smoking when even their requests she “avoid” her fellow-smoker husband in the morning didn’t fix the issue.
Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union told a local news source that the Minnesota woman is out of luck:
“Basically your rights as a a smoker end where other people’s noses begin. In fact you can make the argument that your rights as a smoker end when other people breathe in the air that comes off of you.”
“Private employers can do things that governmental agencies cannot, to their employees,” Samuelson says. “The Constitution simply does not apply in the same way. If she worked for Hennepin County or Ramsey County Hospital she would be better protected than if she worked for a private hospital, which she did.”
Do you believe that even private companies should be limited in their say over how people spend time outside work if their actions aren’t illegal… like, say, smoking?