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minnesota smoking receptionist

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#1 jnelsoninjax

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 11:53

A Fridley woman named Stephanie Cannon believes she's the victim of discrimination -- fired because she smelled like cigarette smoke.

Cannon, a smoker for 18 years, says she smokes almost a pack a day of Camel Menthols. But when she landed a job in June as a medical receptionist at Park Nicollet Health Services, in the Frauenshuh Cancer Center, she says she followed the hospital's clearly-stated "no smoking" policy. (There is no smoking allowed at any time on the premises.)

"There were never any performance issues at all," Cannon insists.

Yet six weeks after she started she says her supervisor told her, "We don't want you smelling like smoke when you come here."

Cannon says she did everything she could to get rid of the stench. "I stopped smoking on my breaks, I wouldn't smoke in my car, I bought new clothes," she claims. At home, she would keep her work clothes in a sealed plastic bag and then spray them with air freshener after she put them on before work.

It wasn't enough. Cannon claims she was told to "avoid my husband in the morning" because he also smokes. She says she was also encouraged to shower at the hospital--before work--instead of at home. And she says she was given a list of resources for people trying to quit smoking, even though she wasn't trying--or interested. "Not now," she says. "The time isn't right."

Last week, Park Nicollet told her, "We have to let you go."

The law in Minnesota states that an employer can't refuse to hire you (or fire you) if you do something that's not against the law (like smoking) if it takes place off the premises during non-work hours.

That means even if smoking isn't allowed at work, you can't be fired for smoking at home on your own time.

Or does it?

Turns our that under the law, employers can restrict the use of legal products like tobacco if they believe it's creating an occupation-related hazard.
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#2 Nick H.

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:02

That means even if smoking isn't allowed at work, you can't be fired for smoking at home on your own time. Or does it? Turns our that under the law, employers can restrict the use of legal products like tobacco if they believe it's creating an occupation-related hazard.

What would the occupation-related hazard be? And does this law also mean that employers can stop you from eating garlic due to the bad breath that it creates in the office?

#3 Ci7

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:04

it is not that hard to suppress the smoke smell :/

#4 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:07

Cigarette smoke is disgusting, so regardless of the legal technicalities I side with the employer. I don't see it as any different to coming into working stinking of body odour, which you should of course be able to fire people for (if they've had the appropriate warnings).

#5 OP jnelsoninjax

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:13

Cigarette smoke is disgusting, so regardless of the legal technicalities I side with the employer. I don't see it as any different to coming into working stinking of body odour, which you should of course be able to fire people for (if they've had the appropriate warnings).

Same here. What gets me is that she was given the resources to help her quit smoking and she refused, saying she was not ready yet... so she brought the whole thing on herself.

#6 Nick H.

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:21

I don't see it as any different to coming into working stinking of body odour, which you should of course be able to fire people for (if they've had the appropriate warnings).

I could be mistaken, but body odour brings you reprimands and the like because it's considered a hygiene issue. Smelling of cigarette smoke does not pose a health risk to anyone else, it just may not be pleasant to smell.

What gets me is that she was given the resources to help her quit smoking and she refused, saying she was not ready yet... so she brought the whole thing on herself.

I've been asked a few times by friends, family and a doctor if I would like to quit smoking, and I keep saying the same thing. "No." Now, would I kick up a fuss if my employer let me go because I smelt of cigarette smoke? Damn straight, I would. If you are firing me because it's difficult to work around me due to the smell, I'll put in a request to fire you because the detergent you use smells bad to me and makes it difficult to work.

#7 Gotenks98

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:33

Cigarette smoke is disgusting, so regardless of the legal technicalities I side with the employer. I don't see it as any different to coming into working stinking of body odour, which you should of course be able to fire people for (if they've had the appropriate warnings).

I am totally with the employer too on this. I have an extreme allergy to cigarette smoke. Almost to the point of where I can easily be hospitalized over 2nd hand smoke. I know when I used to work for a hospital employees would smoke and just smelling it would cause me to have breathing issues. When it got to the point where I started to miss days of work I made a huge stink over this. Eventually I got the hospital to ban smoking all together on that campus. Anyone caught with cigarettes would be terminated if an employee and fined if you are not.

#8 Anibal P

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:35

You're missing the most important point Intrinsica, she worked at a Cancer treatment center, the patients at a certain stage can be sensitive to smells like the reek of a smoker, especially if they were smokers at one time, otherwise I'm with you here

#9 Gotenks98

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:37

I could be mistaken, but body odour brings you reprimands and the like because it's considered a hygiene issue. Smelling of cigarette smoke does not pose a health risk to anyone else, it just may not be pleasant to smell.


I've been asked a few times by friends, family and a doctor if I would like to quit smoking, and I keep saying the same thing. "No." Now, would I kick up a fuss if my employer let me go because I smelt of cigarette smoke? Damn straight, I would. If you are firing me because it's difficult to work around me due to the smell, I'll put in a request to fire you because the detergent you use smells bad to me and makes it difficult to work.

You are just like one of the nurses that smoked that would make me sick. Seriously it can be a health risk to others. I have been hospitalized due to 2nd hand smoke and have to keep an epy-pen with me at all times in the event I run into someone with smoke even on their clothing.

#10 Nick H.

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:53

You are just like one of the nurses that smoked that would make me sick. Seriously it can be a health risk to others. I have been hospitalized due to 2nd hand smoke and have to keep an epy-pen with me at all times in the event I run into someone with smoke even on their clothing.

Being honest, you are the first person I have ever spoken to that could apparently be hospitalised just because of the smell of smoke. Then again, I guess people are deathly allergic to peanuts in much the same way. Although how do you manage to get through a day without smelling smoke? Even if I wasn't a smoker, I know many people that do smoke, and there are also the people that pass me in the street...it must be unavoidable?

I can understand the idea of cancer patients easily getting nauseous due to smells - my dad had leukaemia and suffered similarly - but there is no health risk in that to my knowledge, it's just a side effect of the treatment.

#11 Rohdekill

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:55

Most states are "work at will" employment. Meaning, the employer can terminate you for ANY reason. The only thing they cannot do is discriminate based on religion, sex, race, or handicap. A "smell" falls under no discrimination law.

She was legally terminated. There's no arguing whether the reason for termination was fair or not - the employer has the say.

#12 roadwarrior

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:57

Cigarette smoke is disgusting, so regardless of the legal technicalities I side with the employer. I don't see it as any different to coming into working stinking of body odour, which you should of course be able to fire people for (if they've had the appropriate warnings).

Exactly. People can be fired for wearing too much perfume as well if it affects customers perception of the company. Just the same as any other dress code violation. Seriously, smokers are so used to their own smell (and that of other smokers) that they REALLY don't know how they smell to non-smokers.

#13 Nick H.

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 13:02

Just read this from the source:

The ACLU believes private employers, like the hospital, can restrict smokers' legal activities outside of work. "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."


I guess that - while I don't agree with it - if it's the law, it's the law.

#14 Growled

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 04:33

it is not that hard to suppress the smoke smell :/


I hate the smell of cigarette smoke with a passion, and I agree with you. I work with a lady that smokes but very few know that because you never smell it on her. I wonder if something more was going on here.

#15 Ryoken

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 04:36

You can get fired if you smell of BO, or use too much perfume, so I don't have a problem terminating people for smelling of smoke..