Can I Be Fired Because I Smoke Cigarettes or Vape?

Whether smokers are protected from job discrimination depends on state law.

By , J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law

If you're an employee who smokes cigarettes or vapes, you might be wondering whether you have any rights to do so in the workplace or away from work.

Read on to learn to what extent your employer can limit your ability to smoke and vape.

Do I Have the Right to Smoke at Work?

Employers in every state are free to ban smoking at work. Some are required to do so by law; others choose to have a smoke-free workplace to protect the safety and health of employees and customers.

An employee who violates a workplace smoking ban (for example, by smoking in a smoke-free building or non-smoking area) can be disciplined or terminated in any state.

Can an Employer Refuse to Hire a Smoker?

But what about employees who smoke or vape on their own time? In some states, employers may not discriminate against smokers in the hiring process or in the terms and conditions of employment.

Other states go even further and prohibit employers from making job decisions based on an employee's lawful, off-duty conduct, whether it involves smoking cigarettes, vaping, smoking legal marijuana, or singing karaoke. In these states, an employer who fires an employee for off-duty smoking can be sued for wrongful termination.

However, in states that don't have this type of law, employers are generally free to refuse to hire smokers or terminate smokers from the company.

Can I Get Fired for Vaping at Work?

Employers are generally free to prohibit smoking and vaping in the workplace. That means if you vape in violation of your employer's policy, you can be disciplined and even fired.

Fired for Smoking or Vaping? Consider Contacting an Employment Attorney

If your employer is making job decisions based on whether you smoke or vape away from the worksite, you may have grounds for a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit. Many states have "off-duty conduct" laws that protect legal activities

Contact an employment attorney in your area to discuss your legal options.

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