I've long defended the right of business owners to allow smoking on their property. But I've also argued that business owners should be free not only to ban smoking on their property but to refrain from hiring smokers, or even to fire smokers (in the absence of a contract forbidding it), based on concerns about health insurance costs, or for whatever reason makes sense to them. "If an employer decides that hiring smokers (or fat people) is too expensive, that's his business," I wrote in a post a couple of years ago. "By the same token, companies should be free to hire only smokers, or only fat people." Here is a story for those who though the latter scenario was purely hypothetical:
The owner of a small German computer company has fired three non-smoking workers because they were threatening to disturb the peace after they requested a smoke-free environment.
The manager of the 10-person IT company in Buesum, named Thomas J., told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper he had fired the trio because their non-smoking was causing disruptions.
Germany introduced non-smoking rules in pubs and restaurants on January 1, but Germans working in small offices are still allowed to smoke.
"I can't be bothered with trouble-makers," Thomas was quoted saying. "We're on the phone all the time and it's just easier to work while smoking. Everyone picks on smokers these days. It's time for revenge. I'm only going to hire smokers from now on."
Update: Reuters is now reporting that the owner of the company, Thomas Joschko, concocted the story about firing the nonsmokers. "He said it was a joke and worth the trouble," says Stephanie Lamprecht, the Hamburger Morgenpost reporter who wrote the original story and a follow-up revealing the hoax. "He said he's a chain-smoker himself and said he was tired of smokers being hassled so much."
[Thanks to TrickyVic for the tip.]