Q: My problem involves the smokers who gather in front of our office. Because we work in a government agency where security is tight, all employees are required to use the main entrance. The official smoking area is located just a few feet from this door, so anyone entering or leaving the building has to...
By Marie G. McIntyre / Tribune News Service
Q: My problem involves the smokers who gather in front of our office. Because we work in a government agency where security is tight, all employees are required to use the main entrance. The official smoking area is located just a few feet from this door, so anyone entering or leaving the building has to pass through a cloud of smoke.
This is supposed to be a smoke-free facility, and the majority of employees are not smokers. However, the smoking group includes many high-level managers who find it convenient to take their breaks by the front door. I have discussed this issue with my supervisor, but she has no suggestions. As a nonsmoker, do I have any rights in this situation?
A: Any rights you may have will be determined by applicable government policies and state or local laws. If your agency is in compliance with these regulations, then there’s not much you can do legally. But if the front-door smoking area represents a violation, you could choose to report it to the responsible authorities. Of course, your nicotine-addicted bosses might not be too thrilled about this.
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There is a less-adversarial option, however. Instead of leading a solo crusade, recruit a like-minded group from the nonsmoking majority and spearhead a petition to move the smoking section to a less-populated area. After collecting as many signatures as possible, request a group meeting with the appropriate official. Taking united action will not only reduce the political risk, but will also have greater impact.
If you have difficulty enlisting supporters, their reluctance may signal a fear of retribution. Should this appear to be a realistic possibility, just be sure to proceed with caution.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.