Stephanie Cannon says she was fired from cancer center job for smelling like cigarettes

Categories: Health
stephanie cannon.jpg
Cannon believes she's a victim of discrimination.
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In June, Fridley resident Stephanie Cannon got a job as a receptionist with Park Nicollet Health Services at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center in St. Louis Park. There was some irony in Stephanie's new gig, as she's been smoking cigarettes for 18 years.

Stephanie smokes a pack of Camel Menthols a day, so it stands to reason that she smells like cigs most of the time. But six weeks after she started her new job, her supervisor approached her and said she shouldn't smell like smoke when she came to work at the cancer center.

Stephanie told KSTP that she took drastic measures to kill the smoke smell, including dousing her work clothes with Febreze. She abided by the hospital's no-smoking-on-site policy and even stopped smoking in her car on breaks. But it wasn't enough to save her job: Though she claims there were no performance issues, last week, shortly after her boss admonished her, she was called into a meeting and told, 'we have to let you go.'
camel menthol.jpg
Stephanie's preferred brand.

Cannon believes she's a victim of discrimination, and she's talking with a lawyer about her legal options. But Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, told KSTP he doesn't believe Park Nicollet acted unlawfully in firing Cannon for smelling like smoke.

"Private employers can do things that governmental agencies cannot, to their employees," Samuelson says. "The Constitution simply does not apply in the same way. If she worked for Hennepin County or Ramsey County Hospital she would be better protected than if she worked for a private hospital, which she did."

Minnesota law allows employers to restrict the use of legal products if they determine that use of those products presents on-the-job risks. Nonetheless, smokers' rights advocates like Mark Wernimont see Stephanie's case as just another example of employers and government agencies overstepping bounds in the effort to quash smoking.

"She as a receptionist really had nothing to do with the hands-on health care," Wenimont told KSTP. "It's just one more nail in the coffin of freedom."

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15 comments
hiadea
hiadea

I think if they do not want people smoking to work there, be upfront about it. Tell applicants, "We will not hire you if you are a smoker." Make all current employees sign a waiver stating that they will either quit smoking, or lose their job. At the same time, do what you can to help them quit. Buy them a vapor cigarette, help them pay for quit smoking aides. This woman should not have been fired. They should have given her the choice, gave her an option, been upfront before hiring her on their smoking policies. 

smokingisgross
smokingisgross

I think she deserved to be fired. Especially after the warnings. When people are going through chemo it can make them very sensitive to smells and become nauseous easily. This would be even worse when say you have lung cancer due to smoking! Non-smokers can smell this stench from feet away from a smoker, even if the last cig they had was in their own driveway before heading to work. It stays in your hair, skin, and clothes, even after you wash them. Ask a non-smoker!!

JonnyBeGoode
JonnyBeGoode

Can you imagine what would happen if they legalized certain drugs, you smell of weed, you are fired.. but it's a legal drug.... 

btbmn
btbmn

For some people, quitting smoking is as easy as quitting breathing. The ConservativeJerk is right. Some of the tobacco settlement money does go to Park Nicollet. Also, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) also funds Park Nicollet. Incidentally, RWJF has ties to Johnson & Johnson, who profits from selling Tobacco Cessation drugs that have been proven to be ineffective. RWJF surely has the "no one better smell like smoke" as a condition of their funding so that J & J can sell more of their worthless drugs.

TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

Wait, didn't the big tobacco lawsuit settlement ALSO provide funding for cancer research, prevention, treatment, etc.

CUT THIS SOURCE OF FUNDING OFF TODAY for Park Nicollet Health Services. 

Apparently they don’t believe she should be able to smoke and indirectly FUND THEIR RESEARCH.   

Do that, and you’ll see who gets fired or disciplined.  

Next time someone questions or criticizes you’re smoking cigarettes, tell them you do it out of the “goodness of your heart”.  That’ll get their eyebrows elevated in curiosity.  (cigarettes and tobacco fund – healthcare for poor children, cancer research, anti tobacco commercials, etc, etc.)

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

"Nails in the coffin of freedom"   This lawyer should run for Congress against Keith Ellison if he likes saying hyperbolic things so much.

erinschaub
erinschaub

That isn't discrimination. You can stop smoking if you want your job, it's a choice. Especially if you work in a cancer clinic. That's just common sense. 

ludwitr
ludwitr

What if she came in reeking of feces every day?

dudeman.mcduderson
dudeman.mcduderson

 @JonnyBeGoode That's kind of a moot point.  If you came to work smelling of alcohol, you'd be fired too.  You shouldn't be getting intoxicated before coming to work, period.

robert.moffitt
robert.moffitt

The majority of the tobacco settlement money went to the state's general fund. Last session the state legislature opted to buy "tobacco bonds" to close their budget gap, which is something like a payday loan. As you might guess, it was a bad deal for the taxpayer. The deal could cost the state $500 million, according to a legislative analyst.  Oh, and please, lose the ALL CAPS.

TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

 @erinschaub Her smoking indirectly FUNDS THEIR RESEARCH through taxes.   Don't like the cigarettes she smokes?  Well, stop taking the money for the research and treatment at your facility.

 

JonnyBeGoode
JonnyBeGoode

 @ludwitr Or pot, or crack or anything else... the result would be the same, fired!

JonnyBeGoode
JonnyBeGoode

 @TheConservativeJerk  @erinschaub I think this argument is flawed.  The Settlement existed based on the lies and cover up's by the tabacoo industry - so while it funds it, by no means can it be used to justify still smoking.  Personally, I agree, it's a little sensitive, but the employer should make that clear that it may offend people and the employer should not smell of smoke.

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