TITLE: Nic Fits
DATE: 1/25/2005 04:56:00 PM
Either make smoking illegal...or leave it the fuck alone.
LANSING, Mich. -- Four employees of a health care company have been fired for refusing to take a test to determine whether they smoke cigarettes.
Weyco Inc., a health benefits administrator based in Okemos, Mich., adopted a policy Jan. 1 that allows employees to be fired if they smoke, even if the smoking happens after business hours or at home.
Company founder Howard Weyers has said the anti-smoking rule was designed to shield the firm from high health care costs. "I don't want to pay for the results of smoking," he said.
The rule led one employee to quit before the policy was adopted. Four others were fired when they balked at the smoking test.
Chief Financial Officer Gary Climes estimated that 18 to 20 of the company's 200 employers were smokers when the policy was announced in 2003. Of those, as many as 14 quit smoking before the policy went into effect. The company offered them help to kick the habit.
"That is absolutely a victory," Climes said.
On the company's Web site, it states:
Weyco Inc. is a non-smoking company that strongly supports its employees in living healthy lifestyles.
One commentator thinks they have the right idea:
Just consider health insurance. Unfortunately we have come to the point in this country where it is expected that employers will take care of most of the health care for their employees. This unfortunate situation is the primary reason health care costs are seemingly out of control in this country .. but that's another subject for another sermon from the Church of the Painful Truth. If you, as the employer, are going to be responsible for the cost of your employee's health care then you should be allowed to select employees, and get rid of employees based on any aspects of their lifestyle that would be unhealthy and, therefore, would cost you money.
Nobody would suggest that someone who hires people to drive company vehicles should not be able to discriminate against people with bad driving records. An accident could cost you money, so why not keep the accident-prone dangerous drivers off your payroll? Similarly, a smoker is going to drive up the cost of your health insurance, so why not keep that smoker off your payroll? And higher insurance premiums isn't the only cost you'll have to pay for having smokers on your payroll. Generally speaking, smokers simply aren't as productive in the workplace as are non-smokers. They take more frequent breaks (to do drugs,) and they're absent from work more often due to illness.
And ... to cap it all off ... smokers just aren't all that bright. In repeated trials smokers have scored lower on intelligence tests than non-smokers. Smoking, then, is an excellent way for you to get an immediate indication of who has common sense, and who doesn't . OK .. I know that there are exceptions, but across the board the rule holds. An employer who has a policy of simply not hiring smokers, and getting rid of employees who do smoke, is going to have a smarter, more capable workforce than will an employer who hires these pathetic drug addicts.
Okay, that's fine. In that case, anyone caught going through the MacDonald's drive-through will now be fired...or will have their health insurance premiums raised. All employees will clock in at the company gym before their work starts, and have an exercise supervisor chart their exercise activity and progress--or be fired, fined, or hell, face prosecution. Because we are corporate America. And you will do what we say.
Furthermore, employees' bodies will be measured for signs of excess fat or growths. Regular blood tests to gauge blood sugar, cholesterol levels and antibodies to certain illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, will be given at random; employees will be required to submit detailed updates to a personal sexual history quarterly. Employees found to have test results or to have engaged in behavior that indicates a risk will be terminated.
Any employee using more than two (2) allotted sick days per year will be considered a "risk" and have their health insurance revoked unless they submit all medical records for evaluation by Human Resources. Human Resources also reserves the right to be advised of any medical diagnoses made on the employee during the course of employment.
Further policies being considered are the banning of SUV drivers and Republicans--because these two groups are seen as contributing to the destruction of the environment, making the air, water and soil dirtier and less viable for everybody, driving up illness rates and causing healthcare costs to soar. Another group being considered for termination are employees who ever consume alcoholic beverages, on or off the clock--since drinking can also lead to ill health effects. Coffee may also be on the list of banned substances in the future, as new information about the effect of caffeine on the nervous system becomes known.
Because the answer here isn't to blame the GREED of the health insurance giants that are the ones REALLY driving up the costs of healthcare and squeezing just that much more profit out of the sickness and suffering of human beings. It's to blame the employee for being a human being a company must help sustain in exchange for their labor, regardless of that company's (or anyone else's) opinion of their private behavior.
It also enrages me to no fucking end that the chief REASON insurance costs go up independent of the fact that insurance companies are a bunch of money-hungry inhuman faceless monoliths of avarice is the fact that companies are forcing fewer workers to do more for less money, meaning that in order to keep a job, more and more people are having to put in 9, 10, even 12 hours a day, sometimes as many as 6 days a week for the same paycheck that 40 hours a week might have earned 20 years ago--and given inflation, possibly even a little less.
Leisure time is slowly disappearing as supply-side economics gain power. The choice is often between sanity and economic viability--between health and the ability to support oneself. Because when you work 75 hours a week, it's difficult to squeeze in sleep, let alone exercise.
Did you know that sleep deprivation is also a health risk? Tell that one to the bosses. I'm sure they don't give a fuck.
All of this, of course, doesn't justify smoking. But you know what? And I'll spell this out for you carefully so you're sure not to misunderstand:
Please, somebody, try to argue with that. Try to convince me otherwise. I'd love to hear it.
Companies should not get to legislate or punish employee behavior off the clock. Period. There is a line that should be drawn where privacy and freedom of choice are concerned--and it is far, far before the point where an employer thinks it has the right to make me pee in a cup to determine my habits at home.
(this whole mess, as usual, started by Acidman)