Can an employer tell you not to smoke off of company property?

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Can an employer tell you not to smoke off of company property?

Tobacco use is not allowed on company property so some of use go off company property and park along the city street (which is allowed per city ordinance and PD) to have a smoke. We are allowed to go off the property for lunch. It was indicated to us that this looks unfavorable for us and we fear losing our jobs for something that has nothing to do with the employer. I feel whether it is done across the street or 5 miles away is legally the same.

Asked on April 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Actually your employer can tell you this.  If you are an "at will" employee (and most employees are), the general rule is that an employer can dictate the terms of employment.  In turn an employee can choose to work for the employer or not.  This holds true absent a union/employment contract to the contrary or this runs counters to stated company policy.  Additionally, workplace discrimination cannot be a factor (and smokers are not in a "protected class").  Unfortunately, while seemingly unfair, it is legal.


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