Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Anne Gannon, the tax collector in Palm Beach County, Florida, has issued an edict proclaiming that her office will no longer hire smokers.
Existing smokers among her 240 employees get to keep their jobs, but are being "encouraged" to quit, Gannon said. But they will pay more for health insurance: She plans to increase what those employees pay toward their coverage by as much as 20 percent.
Gannon said her goal is to cut down on rising health insurance costs and to encourage a healthier, more productive working environment.
Taxpayers pay $2.5 million a year toward health insurance for tax collector employees, a cost that rose 45 percent in three years, Gannon said. Job seekers will be required to submit an affidavit indicating they are non-smokers to go along with their job application to be considered for employment, according to the new policy.
I agree with the local Republican Party chairman, quoted in the Sun-Sentinel story I'm excerpting, that this is obvious discrimination. But apparently Gannon did her homework and found that the state Supreme Court upheld anti-smoker hiring policies in place in North Miami Beach during the 1990s. Other local governments in Florida have gotten on this bandwagon since then.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.