At this time there are no municipal bylaws or workers’ compensation regulations preventing the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace. Does this mean that employers need to allow their employees to use these devices?
The short answer is no. An employer has the right to regulate the workplace and prescribe rules of conduct and appearance provided those rules do not offend against the protection afforded by legislation like the Human Rights Code. The Code’s object is to prevent discrimination on the basis of certain physical and cultural characteristics. There is no protection which would extend to smoking of electronic cigarettes.
There may be social considerations regarding the encouragement of tobacco smokers to convert to electronic cigarettes. In other words, some employers may encourage the use of these devices as a substitute for tobacco (by allowing them in break rooms), however, there is no legal obligation to do so.
Written by: Alfred C. Kempf