A Massachusetts man has filed suit against the Scotts lawncare company after he was fired when a drug test revealed that he smoked cigarettes off hours. According to a report in the Boston Globe, the fired employee, Scott Rodrigues, claims that he didn't know at the time of his hiring about the company's controversial policy of requiring workers to abstain from smoking even outside of work.
The paper writes: "Rodrigues, 30, a pack-a-day smoker when he was hired by Scotts's... earlier this year, was fired in September after a drug test showed high nicotine levels in his urine. He had previously received a written warning after a supervisor saw a pack of cigarettes on the dashboard of his car. At the time of the test, Rodrigues... was trying to kick the habit and had cut back to about a half-dozen cigarettes daily. He believes the Nicorette anti smoking gum he had been chewing may have contributed to his elevated nicotine levels."
"That was the really crazy thing," Rodrigues is quoted as saying. "I was trying to stop smoking."
In April, Inc. writer Dee Gill covered the small-but-growing trend of entrepreneurs requiring workers to adopt healthier behavior, in order to control medical costs. The link to that article can be found here.
Gill also asked three workers at random to share their feelings about mandatory wellness programs. There opinions can be found here.
Finally, back in 1994, Inc. pulbished this tale of a CEO--the son of a tobacco farmer, no less-- who paid employees cold hard cash to quit smoking. Kent Hudson "covers the cost of smoking-cessation programs and concomitant Nicoderm patches up to $1,000 a year per employee," Karen Carney wrote, "and periodically rewards each reforming smoker with $100 for staying off the weed. The employees accumulate the bribes and after six smoke-free months are allowed to pocket them for good. Only three holdouts remain among the company's 38 employees." You can find that article here.
What do you think? Will Scotts policy survive a challenge in court? And do you feel comfortable asking workers about personal habits that are relevant to health? Or do you think smokers don't deserve the added scrutiny?
Last updated: Nov 30, 2006
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman