A smoke-free working environment? Sure, sounds good. But a workplace entirely devoid of smokers themselves? Not so good, say city employees in Fort Worth, where lawmakers are pushing to put a ban on hiring smokers.
WFAA.com says Mayor Betsy Price is on a mission to make the city healthier, but smokers see it as an attack on their personal rights.
“I think it’s an infringement on the public’s rights to live their life the way they choose to,” said the president of the city’s employee association, who has worked for the city for 30 years and smoked for 41.
To the mayor, it makes financial sense to not hire employees who could end up costing a lot in health insurance.
“Certainly we put tax-payer dollars into health care for our employees, and anything that might benefit the health to make our employees more protective and healthy, we’re going to take a look at,” she said.
Fort Worth’s human resources department is going to research some other hiring policies as part of its health care strategy, to figure out how they want to do things. Some private businesses have already stopped hiring smokers.
According to employment attorneys, it’s not illegal for the city or anyone else to ban smokers — they aren’t a protected civil rights group.
A proposal is set to be submitted to the city manager on May 7.