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Non-Smokers Fired

DW staff (jc)January 8, 2008

What goes around comes around. With Germany enacting more and more anti-smoking legislation, one entrepreneur decided he was fed up and fired three non-smokers for NOT lighting up.

Look, boss, aren't I doing a great job?Image: AP

For German smokers these are trying times. Not only are they now prohibited from indulging their habit in the bars where they used to spend their evenings cuddling amidst the silver-blue haze. They are also subjected to a constant barrage of crowing from self-righteous non-smokers.

But one small businessman, Thomas J., from the northern German town of Büsum, is fighting the power. The head of a 10-person Internet-based computer-supply company has just gotten rid of three non-smoking employees.

"Our non-smoking employees were of the opinion they had a right to smoke-free areas," Thomas J. told the daily Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper. "My answer was to immediately hand them their walking papers. Smokers make for more even-headed, better employees at our company."

Guy smoking a water pipe
Water pipes are also an option for those concerned about their jobsImage: AP

Part of the problem was that the trio of non-smokers didn't want to sit near their puffing peers at after-work social activities. If you want a job with Thomas J., you'd better get work on a 40-a-day habit.

"Everyone's always beating up on smokers, but now the shoe's on the other foot," Thomas J. said. "In any case, I'm only hiring smokers in future."

But Thomas J., who didn't want to give his full name to the press, may have drawn up his smoker-friendly workplace policy without considering the legal implications.

"If employees make use a right like health protection, they aren't allowed to be fired," labor law expert Malte Masloff told the Hamburger Morgenpost. "And unlike other laws concerning firings in small businesses, this rule also applies to firms with 10 workers or less."

So Thomas J. may have to put up with irritating non-smokers after all.

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