job interview

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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job interview

I went for a job interview and was asked if I smoked, and when I asked yes. Was told that they would not hire me because I did. Is either on of these 2 statements illegal ? Have I been discriminate against? I am in the state of Maryland. Also I would not be on their medical insurance.

Asked on March 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, it is most likely not legal to not consider you for employment because you smoke. Smoking is, or at least can be, an addiction; an addiction is generally considered a disability for employment purposes; and employers may not discriminate against people in employment due to disabilities. So refusing to consider  you for employment is most likely illegal disability based discrimiantion, and you may have a claim for compensation. Contact the federal EEOC or your state equal/civil rights agency to discuss the matter with them.
However, this is not to say that an employer must let you smoke at work: an employer is free to ban smoking at work and to terminate you if you do smoke at work. That is because in that case, it is not discriminating against you because of a condition (nicotine addiction) but due to a behavior (actually smoking at work), and employers have considerable discretion to regulate behavior at work--and especially to ban behavior which is offensive to many (coworkers and customers) and poses health risks (second hand smoke). So you can be a smoker, but they don't have to let you smoke at work.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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