Can an employer force you not to smoke, even on property they do not own?

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Can an employer force you not to smoke, even on property they do not own?

If an employer all of a sudden changes the smoking policy (smokers used to have designated smoking areas) to “no smoking” whatsoever up to a mile radius surrounding the employers property, is that legal? They are basically forcing smokers to go through their day without smoking, they are not allowed to smell like smoke coming into work, they cannot smoke in their cars while at work, and they now have to travel up to a mile away from their job in order to have a cigarette? The employer only owns their property up to the curb across the street, not a mile away? This is insane.

Asked on August 26, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is not legal and will not be enforced. While many companies (especially private and certain types of public employers) can have non-smoking policies, the limits are usually that of the property itself and usually include provisions that do not provide for smoking areas. The employer cannot preclude you from smoking in your own (not company-owned) motor vehicle and cannot limit you from smoking in public areas. Bottom line, you need to get that policy in writing and talk to your state's department of labor, the office of the attorney general in Pennsylvania and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This policy may be subject to scrutiny by those agencies and may bring to light other possible practices that may be discriminatory.


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