by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Discrimination Based on Use of Legal Substances

§ 8.21.03
Key Point 8-21.03. Many states have enacted laws prohibiting employers from disciplining employees for using lawful products (such as tobacco) during non-working hours. Some of these laws exempt religious organizations.

Many states have enacted laws prohibiting employers from disciplining employees for using lawful products (such as tobacco) during non-working hours. Some of these laws exempt religious organizations. Even without such an exemption, it is unlikely that most courts would apply such a law to the relationship between a church and its ministers.

Case studies
• The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that an employer may have violated a minister's legal rights by dismissing him for engaging in private sexual behavior (masturbation) in a private stall in a public restroom. [151] Hougum v. Valley Memorial Homes, 574 N.W.2d 812 (N.D. 1998). A state law prohibits an employer from ...

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