Smoke smell on nonsmoking employee

I read in a magazine about a worker who has a sensitivity to odors, including tobacco.  Her colleagues have been made aware of the problem. She reports that one of her coworker's clothes smell of tobacco smoke. That employee is a nonsmoker.  However, the supervisor talked to him and he says his room mate does smoke in their apartment and refuses to go outside to do so.  What would be the employer's recourse here?


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  • Separating them is the easiest but it may not work or it may not be feasible.  Are there other employees who smoke on breaks?  If so, how are they handled vis a vis the person with the odor sensitivity?

    Under what authority is the claim for relief sought?  Are they citing workplace safety (because they'll go into anaphylactic shock  due to an allergy to two day old second hand smoke odors on cloth) or ADA (their odor sensitivity prevents them from doing things that brings them under the statute)?  In the absence of some sort of authority, and if you are in California as I'm guessing from your name, you can bet there's a raft of state stuff to look through, I would be hesitant to go too far with this without visiting counsel.

    I would meet with counsel about options to inquire/certify the condition and the scope of my responsibility to accommodate before I would bend too far backwards.


  • Most states have some laws that protect smokers from discrimination. However, due to the health hazards related to smoking, smokers are not completely protected in the same way that non-smokers are. For example, smokers can be required to pay more for their company health insurance and some localities have banned e-cigarettes at work. Non-smokers also have legal rights that relate to smoking and smoking areas in the workplace. To learn more about smoking and the workplace, read below:

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