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Is it discrimination to allow union employees to smoke and not pay a surcharge, but non union employees pay $150.00 a month?

Lawnside, NJ |

Our company is charging 150.00 a month surcharge for non union smokers and the union people are not being charged. It will cost non-union people $150.00 a month to stand in the designated smoking area next to a union person who is not paying a surcharge

Attorney Answers 1


I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

While it is discrimination in that the employer is treating one group of employees differently from another group, there is no legal protection for smokers such as there is for people based on sex, race, etc. This means the employer is free to do what it wants with respect to smoking policies.

Most likely, the union negotiated with the employer so that union employees are not subject to this surcharge. This is legal, just as it is legal for the union to negotiate better medical coverage, higher wages, or whatever. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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