Fired for using an electronic cigarette

We were shocked and dismayed last week to find out that one of customers had been fired for using an electronic cigarette.

Following instructions, bus driver Joanne was not using the electronic cigarette while driving but at a turnaround when, without warning, she was fired for gross misconduct.

Our managing directer wrote to her company, Country Liner (page since removed), explaining that the electronic cigarette was legal, and passing on the opinion of scientists that the device carried no risk of passive smoking, and asking them to reconsider their decision to fire Joanne. We received no reply. Joanne also tells us she has not received a reply to her appeal, the last three days of her salary or the travelling expenses she needed to go to her appeal.

After losing her job, Joanne is now on job seekers allowance, which is not enough to cover her bills – she has already received payment penalties for not meeting interest payments. She has warned us that she will soon have to cut off her internet and mobile phone. However, her main concern is not to get her job back but to clear her name – Joanne is concerned that with a black mark against her  she will never get a job in a bus company again.

Joanne is worried this will happen to other vapers in other jobs. Legally, Joanne is in the right – there are no restrictions on the use of electronic cigarettes. Indeed, in one instance when a hospital called the police to stop one of our customers from smoking the police told the hospital that our customer was completely in his rights to smoke.

Based on what we know so far, this is not a just decision, and we hope you will join us in urging CountryLiner to reconsider. You can find their contact details here: http://www.countryliner-coaches.co.uk/contacts.asp .

19 thoughts on “Fired for using an electronic cigarette”

  1. How do you know e fags are risk free regarding third parties? Actually, I believe there is some ‘research’ starting to emerge. What ever the results, you can rest assured it won’t be in your favour. It will only support the agenda of those who pay for it, those who want to see e fags banned or, at the very least, under their exclusive control. These will be the very same groups that cooked up data to frighten the public into believing SHS is dangerous. It’s not – there is no conclusive statistical proof to show otherwise.

    You need to decide who’s side you’re on. Promoting TC propaganda by kowtowing to the SHS myth appears, in my opinion, to be largely commercially driven at smokers expense, rather than for any health reasons.

    All of us, smokers, vapers and non smokers alike should be united by dismissing the cooked up evidence for potential harmful effects of passive smoking. Tobacco control extends its pervasive and corrupt tentacles to all things nicotine they don’t control (profit from), particularly anything that remotely looks like a cigarette. Ultimately, this is about the demand for nicotine, and huge profits for those who supply it.

  2. I believe Joanne’s uinion is helping her, Belinda. However, I think we also need a union for nicotine users to protect our rights! Thanks for blogging about it!

  3. Thanks for the link Mod. Apologies if I appeared OTT. Nevertheless the article above appears to allude to the presumed dangers of passive smoking. I can only assume this refers to burnt tobacco, given that no smoke is emitted by an e fag. But I reiterate – do not underestimate the lengths TC will go to undermine your business. In reality, it should be ‘Nicotine Control’. The claim that passive smoking is harmful underpins a substantial part of their war on smokers, which is why the myth has to busted. It was used to force the smoking ban on us and is being used in an attempt to extend it to virtually everywhere.

  4. I’d like to get back to you in-depth about this at some point, but I think we are getting off the topic here. The point is that someone has been fired for legally using nicotine and that’s wrong.

  5. Absolutely, she has broken no law and appears to be the victim of prejudice. It’d be interesting to see what an independent tribunal makes of this.

  6. “Following instructions, bus driver Joanne was not using the electronic cigarette while driving but at a turnaround when, without warning, she was fired for gross misconduct.”

    If it was a condition of employment that ecigs weren’t to be used ‘while driving’ rather than behind the wheel or on the bus then Joanne did not breach the contract by using one when not driving. There was no misconduct because no laws or contractual obligations were broken.

    Is it possible to get a copy of the contract or guidelines issued by the bus company about ecigs to employees James? Also, the wording of the dismissal letter if poss.

    I agree that tobacco control are out to manipulate us all, db. All nicotine users are in the line of fire, it’s important for us to try to work together.

  7. “Is it possible to get a copy of the contract or guidelines issued by the bus company about ecigs to employees James? Also, the wording of the dismissal letter if poss.”

    I will ask Joanne – I haven’t heard from her today but she did warn me that she was cutting her internet because of costs.

    “I agree that tobacco control are out to manipulate us all, db. All nicotine users are in the line of fire, it’s important for us to try to work together.”

    Agreed, there is already too much infighting! I can see why some pro-smokers-rights groups are defensive, though, as some e-cigarette companies make some stupid claims (third hand smoke, smokeless tobacco being harmful e.t.c.).

  8. SmokersJustice.co.uk

    I can only assume that the company have built in some ruling within thei contracts that anything remotely resembling a cigarette is now a sackable offence. I also find it very difficult to understand how Joanna could fail to win a case for unfair disnmissal and compensation.

  9. The company has no rule or regulation about e cigs in the company hand book and I do not belong to the union / they had no knowledge about e cigs until this incident
    . There was no misconduct because no laws or contractual obligations were broken.
    They changed the reason for dismissal to
    summery of dismissal
    for willful failure to carry out a reasonable and lawful direct instruction by a manager during working hours you admitted to using your electronic cigarette whilst sitting in your cab I believe that you willfully failed to carry out a reasonable and lawful direct instruction given to you by a manager during working hours you have failed to provide any mitigating factors
    I consider your actions to be gross misconduct
    The exact wording in the letter from the manager was
    You must not use this instrument whilst driving as the traveling public will think still think you are smoking and this can still give the company a bad name and you should be aware it is against the law to smoke whilst driving please refrain from doing this in the future witch I agreed to
    The problem is that they are constantly still referring to smoking
    Make your own decision on whether you think there dissension was fair I would welcome your feed back on this
    I have to give them the opportunity to put this right I have just sent a letter to give them one more chance correct this miscarriage of justice but I know they will ignore my letter so it will be going to tribunal soon I will keep you all up to date

  10. Personally I don’t consider their conclusions fair. If the bus was stationary, at the turnaround, you were not driving. Their wording was faulty, if by ‘driving’ they meant sitting in your cab with the engine off. You can’t be expected to read minds.

    ‘Wilful failure to carry out a reasonable and lawful direct instruction’ does not fit the bill, because you didn’t use the e-cig while driving.

    Gross misconduct amounts to more than this, like endangering the public, assaulting someone, theft from the company, industrial espionage. Calling this gross misconduct is saying that what you did is as harmful to people or the company or the public as assault, etc. As you say calling it misconduct at all is wrong since you did not break the rules, but gross misconduct is just silly.

    I hope that they will see sense, look forward to hearing more.

  11. I feel “Belinda” is totally correct here for if you were not in the cab of the bus, because you were stationary at a ‘turnaround’, then there is no case to answer!
    If their terms & conditions clearly state that ‘e-cigs’ are NOT to be employed whilst ON DUTY then they have an argument-if not then they have no grounds for dismissal.

  12. I am in exactly the same position as Joanne , i was sacked 3 weeks ago for smoking an E cig under the heading of Gross Misconduct , i am absolutely distraught about this because how the hell am i going to get another job with that on my record ?
    The witness statement swears i was smoking but i find it odd that after i stated that i was using an E cig that her statement changed completely and included details that i was not only smoking but i was putting the service users life in danger by not looking when i crossed a road and she had to swerve to avoid hitting us ( i work in the care industry ) Blatant lies , when i mentioned the discrepancies in the two statements i was told it didn’t matter because E cigarettes were not allowed ( there is absolutely no company policy on using E cigs )
    I don’t want my job back i want my name cleared .
    Of course i can’t prove i was using an E cig but they can’t prove i wasn’t except for a statement from someone who chose to completely change her/his story, the only thing in the statement that was the same was they said i was smoking .
    I can’t claim unfair dismissal as i only worked for the company 10 weeks.
    I was asked if any one else used E cigarettes i said ” Yes ( naming no names) i was told that everyone would be informed that E cigarettes were not allowed .
    So to sum up i was sacked with just the word of a unreliable witness and everyone else gets a memo stating E cigarettes are not to be used .
    PS. The question of E cigarettes was brought up at an induction meeting but we were told by the personnel manager ” she didn’t know if there was a policy on them and she would get back to us”

  13. Hi there I was told by my boss yesterday to stop using my e-cig when I used at my desk. I carried on automatically really and said that they were not illegal, he threatened me with disciplinary action so I stopped but I asked to see where the company policy was, there isn’t one. I’ve seen other people use theirs albeit a bit sneakily. He just said it was against company policy but still couldn’t provide any documents. I contacted HR who said I was smoking and that he was right to threaten disciplinary action. She also says that the policy on ecigs is being looked at, which pretty much proves that no policy exists. My question is whether they can take disciplinary action on one employee when no clear policy exists.

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