If you live in Oklahoma and smoke cigarettes, look out: a local lawmaker is pushing a bill that would let companies fire smokers in order to save on health care costs.
State Sen. David Hold (R) authored Senate Bill 327 after discovering that Oklahoma law actually protects smokers from workplace discrimination.
“I was just kind of incredulous that there was a protection like this because, as I said, these are the kinds of protections you’d think we have for race and gender, not smokers,” he told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.
The bill is also in part a response to the Affordable Care Act, which requires that big businesses contribute to their full-time employees’ health care costs.
“Forcing employers to compensate or provide benefits to smokers at the exact same rates as they do their non-smoking employees,” he added. “It’s just not fair to employers.”
While it sounds like a legitimate, albeit controversial legislative effort, it’s not clear that such a bill is needed. Oklahoma became a so-called “right to work” state in 2001, meaning all employment is considered at will and can be terminated at any time for any reason.
This video is from KFOR-TV, aired Monday, January 21, 2013.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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