STLToday reports today that seven SSM hospitals, which operate under the the aegis of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, will no longer hire smokers.  Not that they won’t allow smoking at the hospital, but that they will systematically discriminate against those who smoke.  I’m no employment lawyer, but aren’t they just asking for a lawsuit?

I am sure the comments box at the website will be filled with outraged people accusing the Church of hypocritical and hate-filled, judgemental behavior.  Right? Because if people want to help the sick, why should SSM judge them so?  

I won’t hold my breath, pardon the expression, but seriously, this seems crazy to me. A policy of no smoking on campus– that makes sense.  A surcharge on health insurance coverage, maybe.  But flat-out refusing to hire based on this begs the question about just which personal trait or habit is next in line.  No hiring of fat people?  Bald people scare patients too much to hire?  People with cholesterol numbers over a certain amount are not welcome?  If you blog negatively about LCWR orders of leftist nuns, you need not apply?
Job performance is the legitimate concern of any employer, but there is a line when personal matters are concerned.  And please don’t send comments about personal matters that contradict the teachings of the Catholic faith when the faith itself is part of the job description.  That is a different situation.

I think I’ll monitor Casenet in the next few months.  

From the full story:

7 area SSM hospitals will no longer hire smokers 

by Blythe Bernhard

Smokers need not apply at SSM Health Care hospitals, which will start a tobacco-free hiring policy next month.

Job applicants at the seven SSM hospitals in the St. Louis area will be asked whether they have used tobacco in the last six months. Anyone who answers yes will be eliminated from the hiring process.

“As an organization that provides health care, we want to encourage our employees to take better care of themselves and set good examples for our patients,” said SSM spokesman Chris Sutton.

Cost-cutting is a side benefit of the new policy, Sutton said, because “healthier employees does mean lower health care costs.”