CINCINNATI - What would you say if your boss told you what you could and couldn't do off duty -- even in the privacy of your own home?
The Cincinnati Zoo's new hiring policy has some people fuming.
When David Wardlow was offered a job at the zoo, he was told he had to make a decision to stop smoking or look for work elsewhere.
"I chose to quit smoking for my job," he said. "Because I love it here. "
The zoo's no tobacco policy for new hires went into effect July 1.
It's part of a growing trend in Ohio to deny employment to people who use tobacco products.
Jeff Walton handles the hiring for the Zoo. "There's nothing in Ohio law that indicates it is a discriminatory practice," he said.
While the State of Kentucky has made it illegal to discriminate when hiring smokers, Ohio has no such law.
Employers like the Zoo can require a pre-employment drug screening to check for nicotine, as well as other drugs.
Mike Brickner with the American Civil Liberties Union says the practice is a slippery slope. "First we started looking at whether people were doing drugs, then we started looking at alcohol use, then we're looking at tobacco use and next it might be what type of food you're eating."
The policy does not affect employees hired before July.
While smokers who are already on the payroll are being encouraged to join cessation programs, Walton insists using tobacco won't affect their job status.
"We feel it supports the zoo's values of establishing a safe and healthy work environment for our employees, visitors and animals."
For Wardlow, who had made a promise to his daughter to quit smoking on Father's Day, the new rule was just fine with him. "Ultimately, I'd like to be a father for as long as I can, for my little girl."
What do you think about the policy? Let us know in the comment section below.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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