European Union employers can legally refuse to hire smokers

Anti-discrimination legislation doesn't include smokers
||Last Updated: 10/10/2006

Employers within the European Union may legally refuse to hire smokers, according to the European Commission.

The EU is not advocating that employers shun people who smoke, said Katharina von Schnurbein, a spokesperson for the commissioner of employment and social affairs. However, smoking is not covered by anti-discrimination legislation adopted by the commission.

"Our anti-discrimination legislation for the workplace covers four areas — age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation," she said. "Then in general (there are) the rules that cover gender and race, and that's it. Smokers are not included in that list. There are a lot of things this doesn't cover — you could say 'I don't want an alcoholic working for me,' whatever."