More Oklahoma businesses plan to ban smoking on premises

published in The Oklahoman | June 26, 2011

McAfee & Taft employment attorney Nathan Whatley was inteviewed by The Oklahoman about the increasing number of Oklahoma businesses banning smoking on their premises.

The article reported that the trend of nicotine-free hiring policies began with medical centers on the west coast. Candidates whose pre-employment urine samples test positive for nicotine would be disqualified. This type of policy is not favorable to most Americans and is illegal in Oklahoma.

“It’s not only against the law to turn down job applicants because they smoke,” said Whatley, “but you also can’t discharge someone for tobacco use or otherwise disadvantage them, for example with less compensation or fewer promotions.”

Although Oklahoma employers can ban smoking on company premises, company sponsored events or in company vehicles, they are not allowed to give shorter breaks to smokers than nonsmokers to prevent them from smoking, explained Whatley. However, employers are given the right to not allow breaks, even lunch breaks, to workers 17 and older.

According to The Oklahoman, the smoke-free environment trend is gaining speed among Oklahoma municipalities, colleges and businesses. Oklahoma hospitals, public schools, restaurants and zoos have already been smoke-free for several years.