Flint, Mich., Employer Bans The Hiring Of Smokers

Flint Michigan hiring smokers ban

It's been challenging for job hunters in Flint, as the Michigan city faced an official unemployment rate of 15 percent at the peak of the recession. But now it's gotten just a little bit tougher -- at least for smokers, as McLaren Health Care instituted a no-nicotine policy for job applicants, according to MLive.com.

As of Feb. 1, all new applicants at the Flint-based corporation will be tested for nicotine as part of the normal drug-screening process. "We have a responsibility to the community and our employees to take a leadership role in promoting healthy behavior," said Rachelle Hulett, vice president of human resources at McLaren in a written statement. The managed-care provider, which already had a ban on smoking on its premises, now also will not hire workers who are still using nicotine patches.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19 percent of American adults smoked in 2010, and increasingly, employers are refusing to hire smokers -- as smokers tend to incur higher medical costs. In October, the city of Del Ray Beach, Fla., banned the hiring of smokers, joining several other local governments in that state. While the American Civil Liberties Union has opposed such hiring bans, saying that it is "lifestyle discrimination," the Florida Supreme Court has upheld the right of an employer not to hire smokers.

In Michigan, several health care facilities have banned the hiring of smokers, according to MLive.com, and given that it is an at-will state, in which employers can fire workers for any reason, the ban is legal.

According to CDC statistics, smokers in the United States tend to be less educated and have lower income, and so a hiring ban is likely to hit this group hard. Forty-five percent of Americans with a GED smoke, compared to just 6 percent of those with a post-grad degree.

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