Here’s where we’re heading. Where are the lines drawn between the right to work, the right to hire (or not hire) and the right to privacy?
A third problem is that employers, increasingly will not hire people who engage in activities that increase the probability of high health costs. For example, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (parent of Cable News Network) is one of about 6,000 companies that refuses to hire smokers. Multi-Developers won?t hire anyone who engages in high-risk activities such as skydiving, mountain climbing, motorcycling, or piloting a private aircraft. Other companies refuse to hire people who drink or who have high cholesterol levels.Of course, employers have the right to hire (or not hire) an individual. For example: prospective fire fighters must be able to perform certain physical activities. If they can’t, they’re disqualified for hire. But we’re talking about off-work legal activities here (not counting the medical conditions; I’ll get to that in a minute).
These restrictions have me wondering about a few things. What would happen if a company decided not to hire, say, black women for a given position because its superiors feared that a black female presence in that position would, for whatever reason, cost the company too much money? You know what the heck would happen. They’d be sued down to their smelly thongs.
So if smokers, skydivers and private pilots can’t get hired because of their legal recreational extracurricular activities, what’s next? Are people who have unprotected non-monogamous sex going to be banned from employment in some companies next? Boy, the feces would hit the fan in some quarters, wouldn't it?
People can definitely lie about these things, so my next question is this: if a person lies about, say, tossing back that occasional beer or two and, assuming the employer doesn’t find out about it, until, say, twenty years down the road and fires the “perp,” does the ex-employee have a cause of action? Will these employers hire private investigators to follow its employees around to ensure that they aren’t engaging in any of the prohibited legal activity? Will they be dumpster diving in your backyard to find that empty bottle of Jack Daniels?
And the final question: wouldn’t being banned from employment for have high cholesterol –or high blood pressure or diabetes--qualify a person for some sort of assistance? And aren’t alcoholism and smoking cigarettes addictions, and, therefore, illnesses? If a guy with a PhD can’t get hired because he likes his Marlboros and his scotch whiskey, where’s his government aid?
I guess I’m wondering how far this sort of thing will go. One could argue that this sort of thing makes the case for socialized medicine. My experiences with socialized medicine (military) have been good, for the most part, though there are many provable horror stories. Canadian socialized medicine, however, gives us an example of how such an institution might work (or not work) in a more socially heterogeneous culture than the military.
Who knows? The next time you apply for a job, you could be turned down for admitting to the consumption of hamburgers; mad-cow disease and all that.
See you later. I’m going to get a double-double at In-N-Out (mmmm) and ruin my chances for gainful employment.