Watch Your Career Go Up In Smoke

, , , , | Working | August 31, 2017

(The first shift for a new hire is always spent one-on-one with a manager, training. I’m working with one new hire, and we are a little over an hour into his first training shift.)

New Employee: “Hey, I’m going to grab a break.”

Me: “I don’t have you scheduled for a break for another hour.”

New Employee: “But I’m already overdue for my first break!”

Me: “Your first break? You are only scheduled for four hours. You only get one twenty minute paid break.”

New Employee: “The law says I get more than that!”

Me: “No, that’s actually more than we have to give you legally.”

New Employee: “But I’m a smoker! I get smoke breaks.”

Me: “You only get the one break.”

New Employee: “You’re probably too young to remember. Back when George W. was in office, he signed a law. Said you have to give smokers a break every hour.”

Me: “Uh, no.”

New Employee: “No, seriously you’re breaking the law. I could have you arrested.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll send an email to HR about this, but for now we will go by my break schedule.”

(I sent an email to HR, CC’ing the employee. I know the HR person, so I got a rather confused text on my phone asking if the employee was serious. I said he was. She sent me and the employee a dry response, saying that smokers are not a protected class, and copying the employee manual on break policy. However, if he could provide proof that smoke breaks are legally required, they would reconsider. A month later, I fired the employee after he set off the smoke detector while trying to sneak a cigarette in the employee bathroom while on shift. He still claimed those smoke breaks were his legal right!)

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