Health

Could your employer fine you for being unhealthy?


Some companies exercise a tax benefit from offering comprehensive wellness programs to their employees. Some even use financial incentives to encourage their employees to participate in wellness programs. But due to final HIPAA rules the federal government issued in December 2006, some companies are looking at a new angle: They will be charging employees more for their health insurance in 2009 if the employees smoke or are obese or have high cholesterol.

One company that is currently practicing this is Indianapolis-based Clarian Health. As the cost of health care continues to soar, more and more employers are expected to follow suit.

As a non-smoker of average weight, I don't have a personal financial beef with this plan. However, as usual, I can see the gray areas in which employees could be unfairly rated. High cholesterol, for one thing, can affect people with healthy lifestyles. I have a friend who is a vegetarian and plays league volleyball two times a week and softball two other nights. And she still struggles with high cholesterol. Sometimes it's just a hereditary thing that can't be changed other than through medication.

And to tell you the truth, there would be ailments that I probably never would have developed if it weren't for my job. (That's right, migraine, I'm talking to you.)

I'm just wondering if this new trend will open the door to privacy infringements. Will there be regular testing for nicotine? Will employees be required to weigh in at different intervals? Since there's money involved, the scenario seems likely.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

90 comments
vbnomad
vbnomad

Employers aren't going to show an ounce of loyalty or care when the chips are down. They are going to send you packing the second it suits their needs. Why jump through whoops or invite them deeply into your private life? Take your money up front, get your own health insurance and make sure your employer knows his authority extends only to the edge of the company's property. Give an inch and they will take it. Make sure you take first, and don't give an employer anything they are not due.

vandoorninck
vandoorninck

Certainly can be a sensitive area - but like the gas tax, I am attracted to the idea of those demanding the most health care services paying a commensurate share of the costs. And since this is a tech site, one should not underestimate for a moment how 'unhealthy' computer desk jobs can be.

lil_82
lil_82

Maybe people should fine restaurants for having so much food on the plates or fine GOD for those who have chemical imbalances and drink or take drugs to the extreme. Maybe they can fine the people who make the RIDICULOUS charts that say EVERYONE that is this height should weigh this much. Like one person said-he knows someone who is the picture of health and has high cholestoral. DUH! HEREDITY plays too much of a part in health to ding everybody for stuff they don't have all control over. Diabetes is the disease du jour. So, I guess everyone's gonna pay because most people I know have this disease and it's not most of their lifestyles but their HEREDITY!!!!

hlhowell
hlhowell

I have always been overweight by the standards. If a company had done this to me, two things would have happened. First I would have left the company. This would be more painful for the company than you can imagine. I generated more than 100M in sales in the various companies where I worked, so this would have been money that that employer would have missed, BIG time. In addition, if this inspired me to quit, the employer could bet that he would be competing with the company I worked for next, or that I would be at a client company. Neither would be good for his bottom line going forward. The second thing would be that I would not recommend any one to go to work for that company. Most folks respected my opinion, and the result would have been an even greater talent drain. This may not be right, but it is human nature, not just for me, but for most folks in the trenches. Be careful what you do when dealing with folks that are vital to the success of your organization. They are more valuable to you than money, and much more valuable to you than any insurance company. Just my two cents worth. And by the way, with genetic decoding proceeding, this is just the first step. What is in your family history? Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness? What might be the next form of oppression? Think about this carefully.

wrlang
wrlang

Like so many other initiatives, company involvement in employee health is an anti-American socialist strategy. Enforcing lifestyle changes on the individual to benefit the authoritarian regime is wrong ??? a company and socialist state are similar in concept and design. The company only cares about my health because it affects their bottom line. No one will always be perfectly healthy. Why should you pay for my health problems? Simple, because I???m paying for yours. If you shouldn???t pay for mine, then I shouldn???t pay for yours, and since no average person can afford the cost of their own healthcare then no individual should pay for anyone???s healthcare. The solution is to bring down healthcare costs by the sole use of incentives for the healthy and taking the company out of the healthcare debate by eliminating employer based healthcare in favor of government based system. We already have it with Medicare and Medicaid, VA???. It works. It???s better for everyone.

DLBPDX
DLBPDX

Civil Liberties without them there are no liberties

skeet5050
skeet5050

A similar scenerio has already happened in Michigan. One of our IT people moved to a life insurance company in Lansing, MI. Later that year the employer announced that if you smoke, you can not work for them. It went to court and was upheld on the basis of "the employer has the right to not have to pay the higher costs involved with a smoking employee". He lost his job because he could not beat the smoking habit in the time allowed. At one point, Walmart was considering the same thing. If you are not in average physical condition, they would not hire you. No obesity, smokers, or pre-existing conditions would be allowed. I don't know if they ever put that into effect, but they were considering it.

frank.huminski
frank.huminski

My weight has been something I've struggled with all my life. It's to the point where my doctor & I have decided that bariatric surgery is the next step. The only problem is that the insurance plans that my company offers DON'T COVER IT. At all. And since I don't have the money just sitting around for it, I seem to be in a bind. So, based on the above item, I'm going to be charged more for my insurance because of my condition which won't change significantly because that same insurance won't cover a procedure deemed medically necessary by my doctor. Have these people taken leave of their senses?

howardweatherly
howardweatherly

I think there is far too much time spent in singleing out one segment of the population and peanalizing them for the ills of society at large. Ok so maybe smoking is bad, I am not arguing that point but I sure would like to see a fiscal accounting of all of the monnies collected in the name of smoking! I just bet there are a few unrerlated expendatures in there!!! These companies however are well within thier rights but ony as far as thier contribution to health/life insurance. If a person chooses to participate in a *legal* did I mention ****LEGAL**** activity and a government sponsored one at that (lots of taxes and subsidies through the years) then the employee should be offered the oportunity to pay for thier own insurance or opt out of the insurance plan. Sure that would mess up the employers numbers for plan participation all actions have consequences, companies attempt to shift all of those consequences to the employees. My choice would be to expose my southern aspect as I was seeking an another employer. For those of you thinking that not everyone can do that I would like to point out that there are jobs in this country that far too many "Americans" think they are too good for...... Quit your complaining you do not have a leg to stand on until you take decisive action against this nonsense!

Tig2
Tig2

The issue is not, and never will be the "rising cost of health care". It is the fact that we need tort reform and we need it NOW. I'm a cancer survivor. I still have one of my breasts. Will my insurance company be the driving reason that I seek prophylactic mastectomy? Shouldn't I be able to own that decision? Shouldn't I be allowed to make it on the basis of something other than being financially threatened? Heart disease, high cholesterol, and body fat are genetic. Should a person be forced to take medication so that they can avoid being dinged for "risky" behaviour? I participate in a 60 mile walk every year. My ability to breathe is somewhat compromised. Should I NOT participate in this charitable effort- even though I have trained properly for it- because a pre-existing condition MAY have an influence? Should I not participate in something that I believe is worthy? Should my insurance costs go up because of that choice? There are more people out there that did NOT choose their bad health luck that those than did. Look at tort reform. Health care costs rise because health care providers have to pay significantly more to protect themselves from their patients. Edited to provide a sensible title to my post.

btljooz
btljooz

I WOULD if I had a legal leg to stand on. If not, then, hey, I was looking for a job when I landed that one! THEIR loss of a good employee, my loss of an SOB for an employer. ;)

Garrock
Garrock

I believe this practice to be discriminatory. Especially, since many employers fail to provide wellness benefits of any consequence. Are they going to discriminate against an obese person that has an underlying health problem contributing to the obesity? Are they going to reduce stress on smokers, in addition to paying for counseling and medication to help the smoker quit? What happened to our free society? If I want to smoke after work hours but not during work, then I believe this is my right and none of my employer's business.What about drinkers? Drinking causes as many problems as smoking yet is more socially accepted and therefore not looked at as a health concern.I smoke but exercise, eat healthy, am a healthy weight and do not drink alcohol. Not to mention the fact that I am an excellent employee yet an employer will decide which lifestyles are healthy and which are not? A person that doesn't smoke yet drinks heavily has as much a risk as a smoker. Plus, it alters the personality and can make them a danger to others.

faradhi
faradhi

See, the employer has no right to information about an employee's health unless the employer can prove that the information is needed to protect other employees or customers. This RIGHT is provided by HIPPA. So the employer must ask for the information. Now before you say that an employee must comply or be fired or hired, remember that HIPPA establishes a RIGHT to medical privacy. The US Courts have ruled consistently that an entity cannot offer a privilege contingent on an individual giving up a right. Even for purposes of FMLA or other long term disability, the employee only really needs to provide a statement from a doctor that stated the employee cannot return to work for an X period of time due to medical reasons. They do not have to provide the exact medical reason. Although many do anyways and there is not law saying the employer cannot ask for it. However, the employee does not have to give the information. Now, Many companies require physicals and shots records for certain jobs (e.g. Companies that provide patient care or Schools etc.). Remember that those are to determine if the employee is capable of doing the job safely without endangering others. It is legal to ask the employee for the information in those cases. However, the scope of what an employer can require is limited. So, where is will be interesting is if the employers will be able to make the case that someone will endanger others by working while being whatever the employer defines as unhealthy.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

Fine the employer for being unhealthy. I do my best to keep healthy myself, but am hampered by terrible foul smelling air inside the office. It is even worse in the area the account reps work in next door. Airlines now use 50% recycled air in planes rather than fresh air, and I think that the ventilation system recycles air rather than bringing in fresh air. Many other places people work for could be fined for 1) long hours, 2) toxic fumes and many other reasons.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Is the company going to provide health education? Nutrition, exercise, gym memberships, full medical screenings? If they aren't willing to meet their employees partway then I say stay out of my personal life! What I eat, sports, etc is my private life. OTOH; many insurance companies offer discounts for not smoking, drinking, etc. Instead of calling it "fining the unhealthy" call it discounts for those who keep themselves healthy. I realize that I am mincing words. But for some reason that "feels" better. Health costs are already rising. My insurance premiums at work have gone up a lot in the last few years. Like it or not they will get higher. When I was a kid, before most people had insurance, we rarely went to the Doctor. We went to Mom or Grandma. The kitchen was my OR for more than one accident. Is that going to be our future?

Don Ticulate
Don Ticulate

Nothing is healthy! So by this we should no nothing, which is unhealthy! You cant win.

wolfggangg
wolfggangg

I wonder how long until workers will be punished for drinking too many soft drinks or beverages with too much caffine?

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

My company offers a paid gym membership as one of it's perks. I am overweight and diabetic and I JUMPED at the chance to improve my health. The added bonus from an employer perspective is the goodwill you get from your employees when you offer such perks.

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

I try to look at issues from both sides. This idea will benefit the insurance company by reducing costs and improving people?s health. IF their costs are reduced this SHOULD reduce the premiums that the company and employees pay (assuming the savings are passed on). I know people that, because of genetics, have weight issues, high cholesterol, hearing loss, etc. Should they be punished because of something they cannot control? I think not. Before you know it, the human genome will be completely mapped and our insurance bill will be rated on that. Heck, we may not get a job because of our genes. Should Bob, the burger-eating smoker who slugs down a 12 pack a night be charged more? I say yes. There's a huge gray area where people could be panelized for something they cannot control. I think this needs to thought out thoroughly and seriously considered before being implemented. EMD

mad tabby
mad tabby

Just drag them behind the barn and shoot them? You become obese because you're putting in long hours at a crap job (Walmart) and can only afford crap food. You get fired, because you're not healthy, then nobody will hire you because you're damaged goods. Starting to sound like racing greyhounds to me. Think we should start an adoption network for the ones we can save?

faradhi
faradhi

and the judge in that case made his ruling on that basis. That is an issue that makes the legality of this type of policy so interesting.

btljooz
btljooz

You are completely correct!

DadsPad
DadsPad

from you viewpoint it is CR@P. Health problems do not necessarily affect how we do our jobs. Our work place owes us a shared responsibility on work conditions, that means we take extra care to see that our jobs are done properly and the company helps us take care of our health, mostly through benefits. From another point of view, then why do we hold some employees to a higher standard? Teachers are not allowed to have a 'non-conformist' priviate life, even though it does not affect their jobs. There was a group of teachers that belonged to a private sex club sometime back. When it leaked to the public, they were fired. Policeman, firemen, politicians and clergy are others held to higher standards. Alright, politicians and clergy are really 24/7 jobs, so maybe we should. I wonder, though, many of us in IT are told we work 24/7. Mostly that is because we can be called for support almost anytime. But can it also mean that we are at work all the time and our private life will reflect our jobs? [This is also in response to those that say anything we do outside of work should have no effect on our jobs.]

faradhi
faradhi

There is no law protecting those with illness from discrimination. The only thing that they must do is provide reasonable accommodation if the illness is considered a disability. However, high blood pressure is not a disability.

DadsPad
DadsPad

Imagine going home and tell the spouse it is to keep your job! :D :D :^0

btljooz
btljooz

Seriously, doesn't this fining thing just REEK of GREED ?:|

jcstandley2
jcstandley2

Alaska Airlines will NOT hire you if you smoke, but WILL hire you if you drink alcohol. I would rather take my chances of arriving at my destination safely with a flight crew that smokes rather than one that drinks alcohol.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Drinking very moderately is actually good for you health - one drink a day. No amount of cigarettes is good for you. But people will react differently to both depending on a large number of factors. For some people two drinks a day is fine, for others it is not. Similarly some people are high on the BMI but reasonably fit with low cholesteral. Others can be skinny but have cholesteral issues. So where does the line get drawn? It is too complex to box in, so why bother, because at some level you will be institutionalizing unfairness. James

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I've had a nasty battle fighting metabolic syndrome because I used to work for a cutthroat company that was making me miserable. I left before my blood pressure went through the roof and I'd end up with a heart attack or stroke. Can I sue them if I actually did get a heart attack or stroke from the job related stress? This rubbish with employers fining unhealthy employees should be reversed, because most employees are physically and mentally sick from the daily stress and nonsense that the coporate clowns shove down the throats of employees.

systemsgod
systemsgod

These actions "should" reduce costs for the consumer, but, history shows us that it wont. We had "lawsuit reform" in Texas about five years ago, The insurance companies supported it because they said "outrageous lawsuit awards" were responsible for our higher premiums. They also said that if it passed that bill into law that our premiums would go down. Well we passed the law, but, years later our premiums have went way up...looks like another lie from the insurance racket, as their savings were definitely not passed on (well, at least not to the consumer). The truth is that insurance companies are in business to not pay claims and charge as much as they can get away with. Competition doesnt seem to exist to drive prices down. Powerful insurance lobbyists keep laws protecting consumers from being passed. These companies will do or say anything to improve their bottom line, ethical or not. Your health is not their concern. Realize this and know their true motivation before giving in to their demands. The other point is that you cannot control genetics. Sure, you can control your environment and take care of yourself by taking certain actions (eating good healthy foods, drinking alcohol moderately, getting exercise, not smoking, etc.), but, some people are still genetically pre-disposed to have certain health ailments (others are not), and that includes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, etc. There is an old saying: you can choose your friends, but, you cant choose your family. Well, your family (parents) is where you get your genes from. Your environment is only half the battle, as your genes are the other half. Genes are invisible, and so you cant tell if the person you procreate with carries bad genes. So, fining people because they have bad genes will not stop the problems since they are unknowingly passed on. It's really not something we currently understand very well. For example: my grandfather lived to be 96 years old. From age 14 on he smoked two packs of unfiltered cigarettes every day until he was in his 70's. His doctor advised him to quit (he did), but, he also never got cancer, emphysema, heart disease or any other "smoking" related disease. He also had a horrible diet his whole life, and continued eating high fat/ high sodium foods (mostly fried chicken and cold cuts) and drank alcohol heavily well into his 90's before he was finally moved to a nursing home. How could someone with such horrible health habits live such a long and productive life while others with similar habits only live about half as long? Nobody knows, except the fact remains that everyone is not created equal in the health game. Because of this everyone should not be treated as such. Unless you engage in some type of selective breeding program or genetic manipulation, you will always have health issues that come from genetics. I do not advocate either, and I also do not support taking punitive actions against those who have bad genes because they cannot control it. What's next, fining someone for being ugly? Having bad skin/ hair? Being old?

shraven
shraven

As scientific and medical advances continue to show, the best course of action for the betterment of the human race is simply to improve the gene pool by killing off every non-perfect specimen and selectively breeding the rest to emphasize particular traits. After all, we have been doing this with plants and animals for a very long time, most recently resorting to gene splicing and modification. How could anyone argue that the same benefits should NOT be applied to people? Insurance companies are just ahead of the curve in parsing actuary data and applying it to a creation of classes based on physical factors. Of course, since this is done by business in the name of profit, it?s all a very above the board and accepted form of discrimination. I think I?ll go watch Gattaca now.

djl4fzw
djl4fzw

Remember, business is business. The goal is profits. Benefits are HR tools, nothing more. Insurance companies MAKE money by collecting it and NOT paying it out. Employers MAKE money the same way. If benefits can be promised but not have to be paid (either currently or deferred) the bottom line shows it. Businesses are successful, NOT because of generosity towards employees, but by closely watching the bottom line. Perceived generosity is a means of attracting potential employees. Consider it. Yes, screening of employee health will become a means of filtering out expensive employees in lieu of cheaper new-hires. The bottom line demands it. It will become a means of justifying employee demographics. Consider it.

cc2be
cc2be

What if Bob, the burger-eating smoker who slugs down a 12 pack a night is perfectly healthy? There is so much we don't know about the human body - why do some smokers not get lung cancer, why do some non-smokers get it? What about people that don't wear seat belts or speed? Are the companies going to put monitors in our cars to make sure we are driving safely? The list can go on and on. What people do outside of work should be their own business. I think the whole thing boils down to greed - companies don't care if their employees are healthy or not, they just want to make more money

nutta_luke_1990
nutta_luke_1990

i think that smokers shouldn't b given breaks to smoke it wastes time and money whic has an effect on the company so this is unfair, there should be an healthy option within the work place to incourage well-being, but bieng ill for something you cannot change should not be punished peopel with an illness that cannot be helped should be given le-way were neccasery to help them give the compnay the most they can give in terms of effort and efficiency

DadsPad
DadsPad

As employers limit rights to employees with health issues, the laws will change to protect the same people. Look at the rights required for handicapped people now. This could easily be legislated to include cholesterol, weight, and other physical issues. There is a more dastardly action that will happen with the genome examination results in the future. At birth, a baby's genome will be mapped and not only given to the parents, but to a national database that insurance companies can use. The idea is to give warnings to parents and individuals on potential of development of health problems. If a great potential of having heart attacks is found, then the individual can live his/her life to counter act this potential. The problem is the insurance companies will have access to this data; which will affect this person's life from birth. Depending on severity of this potential, insurance premiums could be high or the person might even be uninsurable. Jobs could be affected by insurability.

btljooz
btljooz

[b]MANDATES[/b] it??? ?:| Blood pressure is mostly directly related to STRESS. If employers are so worried about blood pressure, then they need to lay off with the creating of stress!!! ;) In addition to which, people are INDIVIDUALS. Should one be [b][u]discriminated[/u][/b] against simply because their geneome tells their body to have "high" blood pressure??? Surely you jest!!! ....or are simply ignorant and brainwashed by the swill that is running Washintion, D.C.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

barring diseases, then your workplace may be obligated to 1) pay for your e-harmony or match.com subscription. 2) if you are a sexual predator then they will have to pay for your myspace.com subscription (see article today about 29,000 predators found on myspace) I just hope they don't cheap out and try to supply sex toys or various lubricating lotions for self-indulgence instead. (I hear that is bad for your eys :)

JamesRL
JamesRL

Virtually every country has a law about pilots drinking - they are not allowed to drink X hours before a flight. When you drink alcohol in moderation, the effects will diminish to nothing once your body has finished processing. When you smoke, there is no "moderate" level where no harm is done. If you stop smoking tomorrow it will take years for your body to recover (if you are otherwise healthy). Alcohol is dangerous of course when abused, both to your ability to do your job safely and to your health. James

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

if they are going to require healthy personal habits how about breathing fresh unpolluted air in a healthy workplace. Many biz are notorious for bad ventilation and air. Fed gov shut down a new building due to formaldehyde fumes from new carpet.

DadsPad
DadsPad

I was trying to find a way to say something very similar. I know people and relatives that did not live the life they say will deteriorate our lives and they lived a long healthy life. I only question your statement that genes account for half of our potential of contracting health problems. In my opinion, genes have gone to the forefront of this, accounting for more than environment. One needs only to research their genetic history to see if there is frequency of certain health problems. If, say, diabetes is prevalent in you family, it will be something you need to watch for. You may even end up diabetic, inspite of all attempts to prevent it. Genetic manipulation, I don't see how this can be prevented. Already they seem to be close on choosing the sex of a child; how far behind that is selecting eye color, hair color, height, etc.? What parent does not want a healthy, beautiful baby? The good part is it will not be a govenment project. This will mean the gene pool would still be good.

mad tabby
mad tabby

Do you know about the genetic problems that are caused by inbreeding? in dogs for example hip-dysplacia, cherry-eye, breathing, cardiac, elbows, etc, etc, etc. Plus who decides what the "perfect" specemin is? You? Hitler? George Bush? Then when we start breeding to get those eyes a 1/4" closer together, or for longer more wavy hair (yes this is what dog breeders look for when breeding) Either we end up with dogs like poodles, which were a hunting dog until us humans turned them into brainless hair pieces, or we end up with dual lines the "working line" bred to be bigger, larger, smarter..... and the "show line" bred to be beautiful. Seems to me I just wrote out the plot to Brave New World.

btljooz
btljooz

AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! :| [b][u]WHY[/u][/b] don't some of these [u]pendejos[/u] [b][u]GET[/u][/b] it?????? ?:| EH ?:|

faradhi
faradhi

I hope you are kidding or going for some sort of sarcasm that I am missing. Hitler was right?! Seriously? You really advocate for selective breeding? I think Hitler's, and the Nazi's actions showed the danger of that attitude. You cannot simply kill off every "non-perfect specimen". Further, who decides who is and is not a "non-perfect specimen"? You? I don't think so.

marjoe2
marjoe2

I find it very chilling that many of the subjects in the movie Gattaca seem to be coming about. How long will it be until our very genetic code will be used to oppress us as far as obtaining a good job, housing, etc.? It will become a class based society with haves and have nots determined by probabilities of getting disease(s) based on your genetic makeup as in the movie. This is the first step.

rxgirl
rxgirl

This is true! I never understood people who seem to think that businesses "owe" them unlimited benefits, pensions, etc. As you said, business exist to make money. and the bottom line is their main motivation for everything they do.

Zeppo9191
Zeppo9191

I dare you to show me [i]one[/i] healthy person who, for the past five years, has smoked regularly AND drank 12 beers every night. No set of lungs and liver can deal with that kind of abuse for long. Eventually, habits like these WILL catch up, in the form of lessened ability to absorb oxygen, diminished liver functions, and high blood pressure, not to mention many other complications. He who has these habits and believes he can stay healthy is in deep denial. As to the cancer angle: it's common knowledge that lung cancer doesn't restrict itself to smokers, nor is it a 100% risk for smokers. However, the risk is MUCH greater if you smoke. Why would you shoot yourself in the stomach if you didn't want to die? It's very likely you'd survive the wound, but there's a much better chance of dying than if you [i]didn't[/i] shoot yourself. Plus, you'd have health complications for the rest of your life because of the damage done by the bullet. Believe it or not, this is a very good analogy - the long term effects would be about the same, relating to diminished capacity and life expectancy, although you stand a much better chance of recovering completely from the bullet wound than from smoking and drinking 12 beers a day. (edited for misspelling)

mad tabby
mad tabby

Because it seems okay for smokers to go down for a smoke when their stressed, but it's not okay for a non-smoker to go for a quick walk around the building (assuming it would take the same amount of time). So it made it harder for me to quit because when you need to get away from the desk for 10 minutes, if you don't smoke, you're not allowed that luxury (they had done away with coffee breaks).

GSG
GSG

In missouri, it is now illegal to smoke on the property of any hospital, clinic, nursing home, or any other health care organization. No, they are not going to arrest or fine the person, but if the hospital does not enforce the ruling, the hospital can lose its licensure. On the one hand, as a nonsmoker, I like it because when I'm in a meeting, I don't have an allergic reaction to the smokestack sitting next to me, that smells like a smoked ham and looks like a 100 year old dessicated piece of tanned leather. On the other hand, I think, as long as they are outside, and not forcing me to walk through a cloud of smoke to get into the building, they should be allowed to smoke if they want.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I smoke, and I am at work 9 hours a day and I am on salary. Are you saying because I smoke, I should be not be able to take breaks? What a load of BS. You take breaks, why can I not!! Get your act together. I do work hard, better than the non smokers that were here with me (before they were all let go). Hmm, why were they let go??? how about laziness... Yes, to a good degree this is correct. Many smokers that I have worked with work hard.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Now employers see us as walking (or rolling, as the case may be) lawsuits. I've already been caught up in a 'purge' hidden in layoffs where every last person in IT that had any sort of disability was let go. The whole "reasonable accomodations" bit is so vague that any idiot with an axe to grind can tie up a business for years. ANSWER: Don't hire the disabled, and they don't. Employment for the disabled has actually fallen since the passage of the ADA.

faradhi
faradhi

Your assumption that I am Arab and that this might actually have some bearing on my arguments speaks to your poor character. edited to add. For the record I am not Arab. Also, I live in TN but I am not from TN.

btljooz
btljooz

First, carefully READ this WHOLE post so you?ll GET the ENTIRE gist of the idea I?m attempting put forth??????? >>>?As far as my experience with the ADA, aside from my tenure working in a college where I had extensive training on ADA and IDEA, I worked for the Learning Disability Association of Greater Memphis. How about You??

faradhi
faradhi

I do not agree an employer should be allowed to discriminate an employee for medical issues. However, until there is a law prevent discrimination for health reasons, I do not see what law you would use to sue an employer.

faradhi
faradhi

Not once in that ramble did you say anything that proves that any of my statements are incorrect. As far as my experience with the ADA, aside from my tenure working in a college where I had extensive training on ADA and IDEA, I worked for the Learning Disability Association of Greater Memphis. How about You? And I ask again what part of High blood pressure prevents you from doing anything in a major life area? I used the links because they were the first ones I could find that used the legal definitions. However, your links said the same thing so use yours. You are not saying anything that supports your assertion that you could sue for discrimination. And that is all I am addressing. However, you go find a lawyer that would take such a case. Spend the money on legal fees, and then see for yourself. Edited for clarity punctuation and clarity

btljooz
btljooz

Laws CAN be changed &/or Updated. :| This is [b]one[/b] case where they [the [i]Laws[/i] ] SHOULD be UPDATED. One example of the updating of [i]the law[/i] was that the cloning of humans was made ILLEGAL. Ergo, the practice of [b]discriminating[/b] against someone with a [b]genetic[/b] [i]predisposition[/i] to( [b][u]MAYBE[/u][/b] ) '[i]suffer[/i]' from some '[i]malady[/i]' should immediately follow this precedence!!!!! I AM [b]fully[/b] aware of the ADA. In fact, I have first hand experience with the implemantation of it. Do YOU??? As for your ADA [b]WISCONSIN[/b] link (uhm, you live in [b]TN[/b] ?:| )...you probably would have made a much stonger point by using [b]THIS[/b] one: http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/statutes/ofccp/ada.htm >"The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 S.933 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS. (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents is as follows: Sec. 3. Definitions. (2) Disability.--The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual-- (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment."

faradhi
faradhi

I am just stating how it is. You may not like it. But that does not make it any less true. Don't shoot the messager. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a three-part definition of disability. Under ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR (2) has a record of such an impairment; OR (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. (Source: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/disabilities/physical/definition.htm) What about High blood pressure has an effect on any major life activity? A major life activity is an activity that an average person can perform with little or not difficulty. (Source: http://www.mtstcil.org/skills/ada2-b.html) As for being ignorant, I am not the one who suffers from that particular ailment in this discussion.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

I cleaned out and organized one of the shelves in the kitchen with spices and teas. She liked that. And got one of those electric massasgers at fry's for $10 that vibrates, you rub on your back. I guess I'll also replace the distributor / rotor /wires on her car. Not something she sees every day but she uses ever day so prob appreciate it. this car you have to replace wires same time as cap, because wire tips are the contacts. Had never seen this before, first I thought was hokey but does eliminate one connector. And I'm going to take her to an orchid show tomorrow

DadsPad
DadsPad

marriage! :D Better find more diplomatic ways to say things. If she was in PMS, then you could have had physical damage! :^0 Remember, your wife is always right, even when she is wrong. It will help a lot in your relationship. No, it does not have to make sense. It does not matter if you have lived together for years, marriage is different. Try to appolgize and make up. Tell her that you would like to take responsiblity for handling car repairs, but will always consult her on her wishes. Be aware there is a big history of car dealers/repairs/parts that treat females different than males. I have seen it while waiting in line many times, so it is real. This may be why she was so upset. Something I have learned is to try to pick my fights with my wife. Most things are not worth fighting over, there are, and will be, enough problems to work on that are worth it. There was an survey article recently that asked women what turned them on the most. The answer: getting something fixed around the house/apartment/residence that is a big deal. So try painting a room, fixing something outside, making shelves she wanted, etc. She probably still thinks you are sexy with only one month of marriage. :D

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

We were at an auto repair place. I had just taken off two hours of work to drive halfway across the universe (to Long Beach) and get a part that Pep Boys couldn't find because my wife's car is 14 years old. (Dodge Shadow). As stupid as it sounds, the junkyard guy goes - oh, there's alot of other models that would have worked, same engine - the minivan, etc. Anyway, I got back with part to the Pep Boys, and instead of being happy that they could now fix her car, she is ranting to them about how she wants to sue them and complain to their corporate HQ. It was a different store that had replaced a serpentine belt a few days earlier that had probably left the bolt loose so the alternator fell off. And she was yelling at these guys. I told her to 'Shut Up!', as I figured all it could do is PO these guys who were happy to fix her car (free). Wouldn't speak to me the rest of the day. Our 'one month' anniversary and our first fight :)

DadsPad
DadsPad

Eharmony, match.com, My Space? My wife would never agree to that! Just a letter from the company that due to insurance costs, all employees must have daily sex to keep their jobs. :^0 My wife can decide if she or someone else must provide the health benefits. :D

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I used to work at a place that had synthetic carpeting that smelled like paint thinner and the thought of having meetings in a closed conference room made me sick to the stomach..literally! I would come out of that conference room with a bad headache, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It was formaldehyde (enbalming fluid) that was making me sick all that time. Had I known that time what it was, I should have brough a lawsuit against the company and called the dept of health to investigate.

mad tabby
mad tabby

I've got a neice that is so much like me it isn't funny. Right down to pets, foods, mannerisms, etc.... The thing is that because of distance, I've only seen her a few times in her life, so I really doubt that I've had that great of an influence on her. Also my brother and cousin could pass as twins, yet they only spent summers together (and there's a 3 year age difference). So we really don't know what effect genes have on a person.

systemsgod
systemsgod

great minds think alike, no? :) I only used the half genes/ half environment theory based upon what once was (at least it was some years back) a prevailing sentiment. This school of thought was based upon studies of separated identical twins, which ruled out genetic variability (and therefore the differences in the two must be attributed to environment). Seemed reasonable to me. Regardless, with everything we do know there is so much that we still dont know. Philosophical/ ethical issues aside, the science just isnt quite there yet. Still, like you I can see a future where babies are custom built to order like a car or computer (blue eyes, attached earlobes, blond hair, full lips, small nose, tall height, fair skin, mesomorph, etc.), and all done in a lab with convenient home delivery service (Huxley would be proud!). Not what I really want, but, I think there would be a strong demand for such a thing.

JamesRL
JamesRL

....A term that I first heard from James Heriot's "All creatures" books. It basically argues that selective breeding in dogs has lead to some dangerous health issues - Dalmations have higher incidence of deafness, Labs have bad hips etc. I don't think Shraven was advocating, I really hope he was being sarcastic. James

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

Cigar smoke is far stronger in odor than cigarette smoke and many people who can tolerate cigarette smoke are absolutely bothered by cigar smoke. I always make it a priority to smoke my cigars in designated areas or away from groups of people who I know are non-smokers and may be allergic to or bothered by the smoke and smell. It's too bad that other smokers are often rude and downright abnoxious when asked to smoke away from non-smokers.

Zeppo9191
Zeppo9191

Smokers DO have the right to smoke, but I also have the right to clear, smoke-free air. Illogical as the habit is to me, I'm perfectly willing to let smokers smoke as much as they want, as long as I'm not forced to breathe it in with them. I've had many friends who are smokers, and for the most part, those people were very sensitive of non-smokers. They tried to stay downwind, blow the smoke straight up, stepped away from the group for their fix, or, if the situation suggested it, they refrained from smoking altogether for a time. (That's not to say I haven't met smokers who are completely rude about their smoking. However, I tend not to include among my friends rude behavior of any type...)

vbnomad
vbnomad

In my observations the issues that cause the biggest impediments to even-sharing of workload in a team situation are childcare and divorce. The people who can't work late, can't work on weekends, oh it's a snow day, can't come in at all, must get to day care at x past 5 each and every day...yada yada yada. Yes, you made a decision to have a kid, and now your team has to carry the weight... And when someone is having a divorce - might as well put them out to pasture 'til it's over. They won't perform and probably won't admit it. Forget the health issues - self-focused teammates who expect their co-workers to pick up the slack caused by their lifestyle decsions will steal productivity and undermine team spirit far more than a fat chain smoker.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

online meetings rarely have food. And meetings for non executives very rarely have food. Double whammy, no food. At least if there was I would not have declined and made a counter offer to have the info on a sharepoint site that we can go to and look at (or add to). This way it is much less a waste of time.

AV .
AV .

I'm with you on this. Meetings = big waste of time. Meetings = food. Meetings are a big black hole for time. I've had to go into meetings that were inane even if a critical system was down. How stupid is that? To have meetings about digital certificates on a weekly basis is just unbelievable. I can't believe anyone you work with doesn't see that its a total waste of time. Some people must have too much time on their hands or they're hungry. AV :^0

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

that smoke but do not take time off, and still happen to work hard? I get told that I have to use vacation hours. The health nuts that I worked with took lots of time off, and were often too lazy to do their jobs, shoving more stuff my way. It is not all about who smokes, who drinks, etc.. It is about work ethics. A lazy person or someone upset enough not to carry their load, will not. It does not mean that the unhealthy ones should be targeted, nor smokers, nor drinkers, nor burger eaters, nor 'insert other unhealthy lifestyle choice here'. being able to do the job should be the factor, not what someone does on their spare time. And what about employers that treat their employees badly? I Know people who work in very poor environments with crappy bosses/owners. These scum managers would surely fine people or make them skip benefits after causing health issues.

chailey
chailey

It is my observation that medically and physically unhealthy employees are not only more expensive to employers but are a detriment to the team effort and often detract from the objectives. A perfect example is absentism. To subdivide a project that requires each member to carry a certain amount of responsibility to complete each piece can be a real showstopper if a teammember that is always sick or smokes or drinks (too much) cannot carry there load.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I am part of a small group of people working on a special project. Well, just one of the many, many things I am doing. This project takes little time to work on. Basically it is keeping track of digital certs for people, at most it has taken 2 hours a month. The training for it took about 25 min. as was pretty self explanatory (my opinion). Anyway, its been going fine for about 8 months. Allk of a sudden I was requested for a meeting on it. Ok, I spent 2 hours and provided suggestions and feedback. After which I found out that due to complaints they are trying to figure out the best way to handle it. It was suggested that we have a weekly hour long meeting. And this was not suggested by 1 person, it was suggested by half of the people in this project. Talk about a waste of time... Meetings are the problem. Too many people without half a brain call meetings for everything. In this case I cannot even conceive of what we could talk about for an hour a week. ok, open the web page, press the button next to the user who's cert is about to expire, the one that says "renew".

AV .
AV .

I smoke too, W2k and I'm sick of the attitude that I get from the "pious" if I have a cigarette outside of my workplace. I'm wasting precious company time on my 5 minute smoke break? My company owes me time. They get at least 5 hours more a week than they pay me for in my salary. I think it has little to do with smoking and more to do with work ethic. If the same people that hang out for 20 minutes smoking were to give it up, they would still waste 20 minutes doing something else because they're just plain lazy. If you look around any workplace, there is enough dead wood to make a huge fire, and they aren't all smokers. AV

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I've known a few polite smokers, few and far between. I've worked in places where you got 1 1/2 hr break in 9 hours. The smokers managed to at LEAST double that.

amy.wanda
amy.wanda

People are stereotyping in this post - BIG TIME. Not all smokers take frequent and long breaks, blow smoke in people's faces, and are rude and smelly. I will be the first to stand up and say, Yeah, so many smokers are jerks. But don't sit here and stereotype this post saying that all smokers are "bad workers" when that flat out is not true! Smoker or not, it is the LAW that every employee get a 15 minute break for every 4 hours worked (amount of time worked can vary by state). What a non-smoker decides to do on their break (if they take a break) is their right; the same is true for smokers. If there are more frequent breaks it can affect productivity and that is a problem that should be dealt with by the employee and their manager. Believe it or not, there are those of us who only take our one 15 minute break in the morning and one in the afternoon (and this is if everything is running smooth). When there is a deadline or some serious issue at work, I go without all together. Just Friday, our Active Directory crashed - I was in the office from 5:30 AM to after 7:00 that night trying to fix it...and not once did I take a break for a cigarette!!! We had people bringing us food and keeping us well-supplied with water, soda, and coffee. I didn't even get to see the sun that day. I was no different than any of the non-smokers I was working with that day. Remember that there are smokers who do not let smoking rule their lives - and those are the smokers who get pissed off when people stereotype. No one, I repeat, NO ONE, has the right to take away breaks, treat us like second-hand citizens, or bad-mouth us on a post. Unless you have stood in our shoes and lived our lives, do not assume you know, and can therefore judge, us!

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I do smoke a lot, and I do take quite a few breaks. But they are mostly very short, and I dont stand around chatting much either. But I also skip lunch altogether or eat at my desk. There is a cafeteria here, so it only takes a few minutes to grab a sandwich and come back to work. I work a min. of 9 hours, sometimes 10 or even 11. I go outside to smoke, I do not like indoor smoking (not even in my truck with the windows down). When in a crunch, I am less likely to have smoke time, and I try to appreciate the non-smokers around as they do not need to be subjected to it. When in public places, when I smoke, I carry the butts with me as to not litter. But constantly smokers are targeted for many reasons. Just look at the tax on cigarettes these days. Then look at all of the state, county and city restrictions in Ca.. Every couple of months I hear about another group looking for more restrictions and/or taxes as well. The taxes that smokers pay are supposed to go into a fund for health care. So this should not even be considered in this case. If we are paying the extra taxes for this reason, then why should it even matter for health care costs later? This is a bunch of crap. But, my point was directed at the poster which attacked all smokers about 'wasting time'. Does not everyone waste time whether on break or not? I have worked at many places, and people find reasons to waste time everywhere. But often smokers get singled out because they are more visible doing it, or are a bit more antisocial.

Zeppo9191
Zeppo9191

The attitude displayed in your post doesn't help to mend the wall building between smokers and the non-smokers. Most non-smokers are tired of the perceived attitude many smokers seem to have - that being, "It's my right to smoke, and you have to deal with it, like it or not!" It seems smokers don't care that their addiction affects many others beyond the addict - and it does, whether you want to admit it or not.

rxgirl
rxgirl

I've worked in I.T. for a very long time and the smokers I've worked with take a hell of a lot more AND much longer breaks than the non-smokers. Sometimes they disappear for more than 20 minutes. I guess it takes "awhile" for them to hit the restroom, get their coffee or other beverage, and have their smoke. Wouldn't want to let WORK interfere with that routine, eh?

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

...but the whole bit was stirred up because someone with a color deficiency started a union action over the colors in a software app. She went WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over the line, and after that, if you had any disability at all, you were marked.

Zeppo9191
Zeppo9191

If they've become so impersonal so as to initiate a layoff that was apparently disabled-targeted, it's almost guaranteed that their attitude will expand to other groups.

DadsPad
DadsPad

Most places I have been was more accomodating, except for age. :(

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