Wood v. South Dakota Cement Plant

A smoking worker brought an action for lost wages against his employer.  The worker sued under a statute (SDCL 60-4-11), which prohibits terminating an employee for off-duty, off-premises use of tobacco products unless such a restriction on off-duty tobacco use “[r]elates to a bona fide occupational requirement and is reasonably related to the employment activities and responsibilities of a particular employee, or a particular group of employees, rather than to all employees of the employer.”  Upon applying for a full-time assistant kiln operator, Wood was given a physical exam.  The physician reported an abnormal chest x-ray and a chest mass in Wood’s lung and, therefore, recommended that the company hire him only upon the condition that he quit smoking.  Wood never stopped smoking for more than a 24-hour period.  The company terminated him.  The trial court entered a judgment denying Wood’s claims because it found that Cement Plant “showed that the smoking restriction placed on Wood amounted to a bona fide occupational requirement.”  The Supreme Court of South Dakota affirmed.

588 N.W.2d 227, 14 BNA IER Cases 1402 (S.D. 1999).