Analysis: The Legality of Workplace No-Smoking Policies

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Jan. 10, 2020—According to a recent Associated Press report, U-Haul won't hire nicotine users in 21 states moving forward. 

And, that decision has opened eyes throughout the business world.

U-Haul applicants will reportedly be asked if they use nicotine products, and those hired in 21 particular states will need to agree to be screened for nicotine use in the future. The 21 states where it is legal to make such a workplace ruling include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. 

FenderBender, a sister publication of Ratchet+Wrench, reached out to labor lawyers in the states impacted by U-Haul's new policy, which will go into effect on Feb. 1, to gauge any potential for legal ramifications. 

"From the employer's perspective, enacting this policy is a manageable risk," wrote Joshua Robbins and Darshana Indira, lawyers with the Maura Greene Law Group in Boston. "U-Haul is a large company and likely its attorneys feel confident implementing this policy in Massachusetts, given the state's current laws. 

U-Haul's no-smoking policy won't apply to employees hired before Feb. 1. The Phoenix-based company, which says it implemented the new ruling to encourage employees' health, has more than 30,000 workers. Such no-smoking policies aren't entirely new, either; Alaska Airlines has had such a policy since 1985 to address health care costs, the AP noted. 

"I think most of the younger generation understands it," Hutcheon said of employers' growing preference for smoke-free businesses. 



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