State Attorney's Office Does Not Hire Smokers
The state attorney's offices in Orange and Osceola counties are making it clear that they do not hire smokers.
"Yes, we do discriminate," state attorney spokesman Randy Means said.
The policy has been in effect for almost a year.
"If the smokers don't like it, they can go to some other state agency that doesn't discriminate against smokers," Means said.
If you want to work for at the state attorneys office you have to sign an affidavit affirming that you haven't used tobacco products within the past year. And if you have, you're not hired.
"We've not really seen any downside of it," Means said.
Means said that the hiring practice has been a good business move. Employees spend more time at work and less time on smoking breaks. Means knows this because he actually timed smoking breaks before the policy took effect and found out that smokers were spending 18 to 20 minutes on smoking breaks every two hours. He calls the amount of time a waste of taxpayerâ€™s money. The hiring practice is drawing criticism from Central Floridaâ€™s American Civil Liberties Union.
"Sure, just like we would save money if we didn't bother with trials and just executed people," ACLU Chairman Alan Lunin said.
"The government as an employer doesn't have a right to tell you what to do off the job as long as it's legal," Lunin said. The chairman wonders what this decision might lead to.
"Pregnant, overweight, we can even get into genetics eventually," Lunin said. The hiring policy is legal, according to the Florida Supreme Court. In 1999, the high court ruled that employers, "can discriminate against smokers during the hiring process." If a non-smoker picks up the habit once he's been hired, Means said that he won't be discriminated against, just encouraged to quit. The state attorney's office has a handful of smokers who were hired before the policy took effect. They have been offered help to quit the habit. There is also a push for a Constitutional Amendment that would ban smoking in restaurants. Nearly 15,000 people have responded to the NewsChannel 2 Web question asking whether smoking should be banned in restaurants and workplaces. The results said that 69 percent said yes.