If my employer has passed a policy on tobacco use which nowprohibits us from smoking on our breaks, is this legal?

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If my employer has passed a policy on tobacco use which nowprohibits us from smoking on our breaks, is this legal?

It also says that we may during our lunch when we are clocked out and may also not smoke on the property, including city sidewalks. I am a supervisor and salaried employee; I am not allowed to leave the property, nor do I clock in or out, or get a “30 minute” lunch. I work for ahospital.

Asked on September 14, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An employer may set almost any terms or conditions of employment it choose in this regard, including preventing employees from smoking during their breaks or on employer property. If the requirements of your job mean that, as a result, you effectively cannnot smoke during the work day, there is still nothing inapproriate or illegal about this policy. Indeed, an employer could probably set the policy that employees may not smoke at all, ever, and then terminate an employee found to smoke on his or her time. Smoking is not a protected category; as long as employers don't discriminate against protected groups, their discretion to set work rules or terms and conditions of employment is very high.


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