Smoking Could Cost You a Job- 1/24/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
January 24, 2012
MIDLAND/ODESSSA—There's a new test that could keep you in the unemployment line.
Businesses and lawmakers have targeted smokers over the past decade.
For nurses and healthcare professionals, a nicotine addiction in the Midland/Odessa area might just stand between you and a job.
Both Midland Memorial Hospital and Medical Center Hospital say they test all new employees for nicotine--and won't hire you if you're test positive.
"We do test upon hire no matter what position they have,” said Bob Dent, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Midland Memorial Hospital.
One upcoming nursing student weighed in.
"If you’re a smoker, but you’re a great nurse, you’re good at your skills,” said Erin Cardona, a student at Odessa College. “For them to sit there and say they are not going to hire you...I don't believe that's right."
Washington, D.C. based lawyer Charles Craver says there’s no precedent for discrimination cases against smokers, so it’s a legal practice.
Dent says it’s all part of keeping a healthy workforce and reducing insurance costs.
"We want to set that standard that we want to be a healthcare provider, but also offer healthcare for employees as well,” Dent said.
So why just smoking, we asked if obesity could be next.
"I'm not sure..we'll watch and look at those things..see what other places like New York are doing, right now we are just looking at a positive lifestyle,” Dent said.
There is still at least one hospital in the area that is not testing its employees for nicotine. Odessa regional medical center's told us they do have a smoke-free campus, but don't look at smoking as a factor in hiring decisions.