ForumTouchy Subjects ► UHaul Anti-Nicotine Hiring Prolicy
UHaul will no longer hire anybody who is a known nicotine user. It's unclear if all employees currently at UHaul will need to live up to this standard.

Should it be legal for a company to discriminate in employment based on recreational, off hours use of a legal product?
  
I believe it has been done for alcohol in the past.

Whether it should be is a rather different question. I would say that only your on-the-job behaviour is relevant but I am of a distinctly libertarian persuasion. I expect others to disagree.
  
Definitely not. Especially for a product that can't impair your job performance.

I had a landlord once who insisted there was to be no smoking anywhere on the property. No smoking inside is fine, who does that anyway, it stains and smells. But telling us we're not allowed to smoke outside either is just controlling our lives, we're not loitering down the street every time we want a cigarette.
  
This reading provides an interesting perspective that I think is relevant here: link
(published in the Best American Essays 2017)
  
I am absolutely for a private property owner/operator being permitted to ban smoking on their premises. That's different from a company saying people who smoke on their own time can't work here at all.

Seems like if UHaul actually cared about the health of employees, though, they would subsidize resources to help employees quit smoking, and would have a policy about only firing employees for tobacco after the employee refuses to attempt to quit or fails to attempt to quit after sufficient resources were provided.

Simply not hiring or firing an employee for using tobacco isn't compassionate and it doesn't make the workforce healthier. What it does is take smokers, who are disproportionately poor and non-white, and make it less likely that they'll be able to quit.

Millpond said:
I had a landlord once who insisted there was to be no smoking anywhere on the property. No smoking inside is fine, who does that anyway, it stains and smells. But telling us we're not allowed to smoke outside either is just controlling our lives, we're not loitering down the street every time we want a cigarette.
I live on the ground floor of an apartment in Brooklyn (old building, no ventilation except one set of windows). Smokers stand near my window and blow smoke into my apartment for combined hours a day. I inhale enough smoke for it to be a health concern. Just because you're outside doesn't mean you're not impacting others on the property.
  
I'm not sure what you mean about smoking outside affecting people inside, if the tenants are outside then no one's inside. The landlord didn't care about our health. We refused to sign, and she backed down and crossed it out.

I don't agree it would be okay to fire smokers for not completing a quitting course, because that's the same issue: discrimination against an irrelevant characteristic. I don't see what race has to do with this issue. Nothing in the article said they were doing anything to improve the health of their existing employees. If UHaul really cares about the health of its employees then yes, a quitting programme would be more sensible. But it should be voluntary. And quitting programmes should really be the government's department.

I note that it's not just about UHaul, it's about the fact that in 21 US states, it is legal to discriminate against smokers. UHaul decided to exercise their right in those 21 states and the media picked up on it, but presumably other companies do it too.
  
Millpond said:
I'm not sure what you mean about smoking outside affecting people inside, if the tenants are outside then no one's inside.

Air moves. Air from outside moves inside. If you are smoking within 6-7 meters of a building, that smoke ends up inside that building. That's why it's typically illegal to smoke within 10-20 feet of buildings.

I provided my example. People smoke near my building all the time. I only have one window, no vents, I must have that window open for ventilation, even in the winter. Smoke comes directly into my apartment and lingers.

Millpond said:
The landlord didn't care about our health. We refused to sign, and she backed down and crossed it out.

I'm sure she didn't care about your health, she probably cared about her property.

Millpond said:
I don't agree it would be okay to fire smokers for not completing a quitting course, because that's the same issue: discrimination against an irrelevant characteristic.

I didn't say it would be okay. I said that's what their policy would be if they actually cared about the health of their employees.

Millpond said:
I don't see what race has to do with this issue.

Smoking advertisement targets specific, typically poor, typically non-white communities more heavily than others. Smokers tend to be poor. Black men, first peoples, and East Asian immigrants are more likely to be smokers than white people.

Millpond said:
Nothing in the article said they were doing anything to improve the health of their existing employees.

That was my complaint as well.

Millpond said:
If UHaul really cares about the health of its employees then yes, a quitting programme would be more sensible. But it should be voluntary.

I tend to agree, but I'd be open to hearing arguments about mandatory non-smoking programs.

Millpond said:
And quitting programmes should really be the government's department.

That's interesting, you think the government should be stepping in and providing quitting resources? Why?

Millpond said:
I note that it's not just about UHaul, it's about the fact that in 21 US states, it is legal to discriminate against smokers. UHaul decided to exercise their right in those 21 states and the media picked up on it, but presumably other companies do it too.

UHaul is the first national company I could find (except an airline, which makes more occupational sense because smoking in an airport or on an airplane, especially long-distance flights, is not possible).
  
So you were talking about smoke damage to the property, I thought you were talking about second-hand smoke affecting non-smokers inside.

I don't think the risk of meaningful smoke damage from cigarette smoke outside possibly wafting in an open window occasionally is significant. The windows were regular house windows, often closed, and second-hand smoke doesn't head towards the windows every night. Besides, a more logical rule would be "don't smoke near open windows". Hard to enforce, but so was a total ban.

I think it's unreasonable and unrealistic to expect tenants and/or their guests to have to leave their property and loiter out on the street every time they want a cigarette, and to make us feel like we're naughty schoolkids if we have a cigarette on the porch like normal people. It's degrading. Short of smashing the place up or whatever, tenants should be allowed to do anything owners can.

I understand that different races might choose to smoke at different rates, but what of it?

I think the government should step in and fund quitting programmes because protecting/improving standard of living/health is a good idea and it's their job. You mentioned smokers are disproportionately poor, so cost probably prevents many accessing quitting programmes. So making them free sounds like a sensible solution, assuming we want them to quit. And its the government that can do that. Private corporations aren't going to pay for it, and nor should we expect them to. I really don't understand what UHaul's motive is.
  
Millpond said:
So you were talking about smoke damage to the property, I thought you were talking about second-hand smoke affecting non-smokers inside.

I was talking about both. Smoke entering the apartments both causes secondhand smoke damage to residents and damage to the property.

Millpond said:
I don't think the risk of meaningful smoke damage from cigarette smoke outside possibly wafting in an open window occasionally is significant.

It is absolute can be, as can cigarette butts and the increased risk of fire. Anyway, your gripe with your landlord is, we agree, a wholly different situation than a non-hiring policy.

Millpond said:
Short of smashing the place up or whatever, tenants should be allowed to do anything owners can.
Why? The owners... own the property. Tenants are entering into an agreement with the owners. The owners should be allowed to determine what is in their own interest when setting that agreement. Renters can choose to rent elsewhere.

The reason this is different than a non-hiring policy is that the non-hiring policy is dictating what a person can do anywhere. If UHaul was just implementing no smoking on the premises rules, it'd be fine.

Millpond said:
I understand that different races might choose to smoke at different rates, but what of it?

Refusing to hire smokers negatively impacts non-whites at a more significant rate than whites. It's a proxy for racial and socio-economic discrimination.

Millpond said:
I think the government should step in and fund quitting programmes

I agree. I think it's in business's interests to offer those programs, too, or certainly they should be providing those programs if they're also going to fire people for smoking.

Millpond said:
I really don't understand what UHaul's motive is.

Smokers work less than non-smokers, they're less productive and they increase the cost of providing healthcare to your workforce. Removing smokers from the workforce makes UHaul money.
  
Someone inside while their flatmates/friends/partners are smoking outside is either a smoker anyway who will probably join them soon, or someone knowingly associating with smokers. It's not the landlord's business if they get a nano-sniff of second-hand smoke through an open window from living with / visiting smokers who smoke outside. They can shut the window if it's such a problem.

So we should accept degrading policies because we can go somewhere else - unless the other places have them too and we have ever-dwindling choices. That's not the point, at some point the government needs to step in and regulate. It's like pet-owners ending up homeless because landlords increasingly discriminate against pet-owners. But pet-owners can go somewhere else - until they can't. By that logic, we should accept UHaul discriminating against smokers, because smokers can apply somewhere else that doesn't do it yet.

I don't accept the logic that if X varies by Y, X is a proxy for Y. And why wouldn't that logic equally apply to landlords. By that logic, my landlord was racially discriminating by proxy, yet you defended her.

I'm not convinced that workers who smoke necessarily work less than workers who don't. I worked with a man who came to work stoned. The boss never had any complaints about his work. If the productivity of an employee is unsatisfactory, then reprimand them on that point.

I don't think providing healthcare should be the role of the employer, I think it should be the role of the government.
  
Should be legal, is probably profitable in many cases, probably isn't moral.
DIAV said:
I would say that only your on-the-job behaviour is relevant but I am of a distinctly libertarian persuasion.
I think that's the libertarian stance from the employer's standpoint but not from the government's because a libertarian government would favor freedom of association.

There's an economic argument for the government providing resources to quit smoking. Less smoking = less disease = longer-living and healthier populace = greater productivity and tax revenue and lower costs to public health services. But an individual corporation doesn't have to worry about the entire population - only their own customers and employees. Perhaps UHaul has determined it's more cost-effective to foist smokers onto other employers (or onto unemployment) than to try to help them stop smoking.

Actually, you kind of said that yourself, Gorgon, so I'm not sure why you're also saying that it's in businesses' interests to help employees who smoke.

Agreed with Millpond on the race stuff. Unless you can demonstrate racist intent, I don't think we can hold people accountable for (broadly) reasonable forms of discrimination that happen to correlate with race.
  
To be clear, I'm not saying there's a racist intent, I'm saying there's a racial outcome. Those aren't the same thing.

@millipond -- it's nothing like your landlord. Your landlord didn't say you couldn't rent if you smoked. The landlord said you couldn't smoke on the property. Those are radically different statements. If she refused to rent to a smoker, even if that smoker definitively didn't smoke on the property, I would also be against that.

I'm also not saying it's in the business's interest to keep smokers. I don't think it is. I think it's in society's interest to not allow business's to fire people based on what they do on their own time. If somebody who is a smoker is performing poorly on the job due to smoking-related behaviors, a company should be able to fire that person. They shouldn't be able to fire them just based on their decision to use a legal substance on their own time.
  
I think that's the libertarian stance from the employer's standpoint but not from the government's because a libertarian government would favor freedom of association.


I don't understand what you are saying here. Where does freedom of association come in?
I would say I was supporting the workers' liberty to do what they wanted in their own time.
Gorgon put that pretty succinctly...

I think it's in society's interest to not allow businesses to fire people based on what they do on their own time.
  
To be clear, I'm not saying there's a racist intent, I'm saying there's a racial outcome. Those aren't the same thing.
Then to quote Millpond, what of it?
DIAV said:
Where does freedom of association come in?
Hiring or not hiring someone as an employee is a form of association. Mandating that employers not discriminate based on nicotine use is a restriction of that freedom.
  
I'd assert it's not in society's best interest to further solidify a wealth gap by making it statistically more difficult for people of specific races or specific socio-economic groups to get jobs. Targeting cultural practices (particularly those which are occurring entirely outside of the workplace such as using tobacco), of specific subgroups is a proxy (intentional or not) for targeting those groups and thus has negative outcomes disproportionately impacting those groups.

Mandating equal employment opportunities for tobacco users is not a violation of freedom of association (at least in the legal sense). It is, in fact, illegal in most US states to discriminate in hiring in this way.
  
Stupid policy that I find to be near immoral and probably ineffective. UHaul is UHaul. They have no dearth of people applying. People already employed who smoke may switch over to smokeless nicotine products. I do not buy for a second that they’ll fire you for having consumed nicotine. They’d have to test for a chemical called cotinine that no drug tests include. Some of you who hang out with smokers may have that in your body right now. People who already smoke who have that compulsion to follow rules may be encouraged to stop because when you include dip, lozenges, gum, and patches into smokeless then you’re looking at something that’s usually more expensive than cigarettes. I doubt that many will.

Seems absurd to ban having a certain chemical in you. What if I want to turn down anyone who takes a prescription medication. If you take seroquel, it’s okay, there’s meds out there that don’t make you annoying.
  
Mandating equal employment opportunities for tobacco users is not a violation of freedom of association (at least in the legal sense).
It's similar to not being able to yell fire in a crowded theater. Both are constitutional, but both are also non-libertarian in the sense that they do in fact restrict individual freedoms (either of speech or of association).
  
Millpond said:
Someone inside while their flatmates/friends/partners are smoking outside is either a smoker anyway who will probably join them soon, or someone knowingly associating with smokers. It's not the landlord's business if they get a nano-sniff of second-hand smoke through an open window from living with / visiting smokers who smoke outside. They can shut the window if it's such a problem.

This line of thought makes sense with regards to small apartments that have their own land, but doesn't work at all with large apartment buildings. The smoke outside doesn't solely affect the occupants who have the guests over.
  
Millpond said:
It's not the landlord's business if they get a nano-sniff of second-hand smoke through an open window from living with / visiting smokers who smoke outside. They can shut the window if it's such a problem.

This isn't how fluid dynamics work, nor is it how many apartments with poor ventilation work, and it's why many states (including plenty of heartily Republican states such as Oklahoma or North Dakota) legally require smokers to be several yards away from buildings.
  
It wasn't an apartment, it was a house.
  
Forum > Touchy Subjects > UHaul Anti-Nicotine Hiring Prolicy