The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Friday, January 28, 2005

Employers exceed Privacy Bounds

In Michigan two employers have decided they have the right to see what you are doing in your private life.

Weyco Inc. A health benefits administrator based in Okemos Michigan, a town that butts up next to the state Capital Lansing, has fired four employees for refusing to take a test that would determine if they smoke. The company has decided it will have only non smoking employees.
In Kalamazoo Michigan a local community college announces they will not hire anyone who smokes.
The excuse behind these incredibly egregious examples of blasting through the boundaries of an employee's private life is health care costs of smokers. I don't think anyone can dispute that smoking increases health risks and therefore the cost of health care of that person, however it is beyond the pale for an employer to have the right to dictate to an employee what they will do in their own home regarding an activity that is legal.

I find it incredibly amazing that any employer believes they can breach the bounds of privacy, talk about owing your soul to the company store!

If this is allowed to stand what could come next?

An employee required to meet the weight recommendations for their height?

Refusing to hire an obese or even moderately overweight individual?

How about those sun worshippers, including those who use tanners in the wintertime?

Controlling the amount of caffeine intake of an employee? Over consumption of caffeine impacts the heart immensely.

Shall employers opt to see how much alcohol you drink? Will it be ok to just be a social drinker? Or will one alcohol drink a day be ok? Perhaps only two? Three daily will surely be too much.

I have an idea! Companies can set up a new position, Employee Health Care Coordinator and each week every employee will be forced to take a battery of tests in front of the EMCC. That way the employer can test employees for diabetes and hypertension, thereby ensuring not only are these diseases are caught early, they can ensure that the employee is appropriately managing the diseases. Of course they will also need to distribute health questionnaires to check out what their employees are eating daily as well as whether they are practicing safe sex procedures. After all, each of these issues increase health care costs when irresponsible employees opt to engage in behavior that has a high probability of harming their health and therefore the bottom line costs of employers.




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