A Minnesota woman says she lost her job because she is a smoker. Stephanie Cannon had a job as a receptionist at Park Nicollet Health Services and claims she was fired because she smelled like cigarette smoke.
Asked to make changes
Cannon says she stopped smoking on her breaks, used an air freshener and even claims she kept her work clothes in a plastic bag to diminish the smell. She was given information about quitting, but Cannon says she and her husband have no desire to quit and doesn’t feel a job should dictate that choice.
“What I do in my home or outside of work when I’m not punching into that little clock is my business,” she told KSTP. “I shouldn’t have to be made to feel like I’m a leper.”
The legal battle
Cannon says she is considering a lawsuit, but some lawyers don’t think she has a case. According to Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union, “Basically your rights as a smoker end where other people’s noses begin. In fact you can make the argument that your rights as a smoker end when other people breathe in the air that comes off of you.”
The Minnesota state law says an employer can’t hire or fire a person unless they are doing something that is against the law, but it also states employers can fire someone if they are creating a hazard in the work environment.
Similar case played out in 2009
A Massachusetts man claimed he was fired from a lawn care service for smoking in 2009. Scott Rodrigues filed a lawsuit and lost. “I feel in my heart that this judge has other interests, his own personal interests, in this case,’’ Rodrigues told the Globe. “This judge has just empowered business more than he did the people.’’