Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Employment discrimination, no smokers need apply

Smokers really need to wake up on this latest development where it has been found that the human rights act et al. do not prevent employers from specifying that smokers will not get employed.

Mainly because they need to realise that the primary defense which they are presenting is completely fallacious.  At present the reaction has been that "it is discriminatory and where would you draw the line?".  Discrimination is already inherent in our employment legislation and the line drawing already exists - so what the smoker needs to do is differentiate which side of the line (protected or open-season) they sit.  An employer can already discriminate on the basis of criminal record, education record, previous employers, time in the workplace, cultural fit etc, smoking in many realms is actually more relevant to your future perceived performance than some of these highly used discrimination measures.  What they need to realise is that the actual protected areas: sex, race, religion, sexual preference etc are all generally protected due to their supposed "non-choice" based origin.  A person does not "choose" these things, and therefore may not be discriminated against on the basis of them.

However things that are chosen, or are the results of decisions are all (currently) fair game for the purpose of discrimination. 
So the question needs to be: If we protect a smoker from being discriminated against, where do we stop, where does the line get drawn?
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