Legal Question in Employment Law in Illinois

In Illinois can a private dentist office not hire a person because they smoke? Even if the seeking employee substituted one day as a working interview, did a great job and was never verbally asked prior or asked on a application if they are a smoker? The seeking employee was asked the day of working if they smoked because the doctor smelled smoke. There is smokers protection laws in Illinois.

Asked on 12/11/13, 10:07 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

In Illinois yes because of several factors. First, while you may not be smoking on premises, which is otherwise prohibited by the State's clean indoor air act and smoke free act, and many local versions, federal law (the ADA in particular) does not recognize smoking as a disability at the present time; thus employers are free to discriminate subject to state and local laws. You are thinking of the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, which prohibits employers from discrimination in hiring people who otherwise may use legal products such as tobacco on their own time. However, this is a medical office and you are inches from patients. Employers in Illinois can effectively bar you from being on premises if you smell of tobacco smoke, and are not required by federal or state law to accommodate your addiction. Thus the question is: if they hired you would you come to work and not smell (either personally or your clothes?); otherwise it becomes a futile gesture to hire you and then prohibit you from the workplace if they deem it inappropriate to have an employee smell of tobacco smoke on premises.

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Answered on 12/13/13, 12:37 pm

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