Where there’s smoke…
I think that your final answer to the Human Side of Engineering case, “Must you provide a smoke-free work environment?” (PE, November 1998, p 32) is a little short-sighted. Paula Graham may not have a case under the ADA, but she does have the potential for either an OSHA investigation or a civil court case. With all the anti-smoking legislation and information that is currently in the news, even if she did not win a legal battle, the negative publicity such a case would bring could be very detrimental to the company.
I have recently been through a similar situation and it was the opinion of our legal department that the case, if it went to court, would not be won by the company. Numerous other companies and federal organizations have implemented no-smoking policies successfully and there is no reason one could not be implemented in this situation. — Lynn Sines, Maintenance Engineer
Reply: It is in cases like this where legal and human resources experts should be brought into the fray. Public relations and other damage consequences should be assessed. Given my own feelings about tobacco, I would like to see all problems relating to cigarettes resolved in favor of the nonsmoking victim. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. — Ray Dreyfack