Second-hand smoke can provide justification for quitting

Halifax casino worker awarded Employment Insurance benefits after quitting
By Chris Foulon
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Employers should take note of a recent decision of the Employment Insurance board. The case is of particular importance to employers in the hospitality industry. But all employers should consider the case in respect of an employer’s obligation to provide their employees with a safe and healthy workplace.

Andrea Skinner had worked as a blackjack dealer at the Halifax Casino for seven years. In September 2002 she complained of back pain and her doctors recommended she take one week off of work to recover. Her employer refused to provide her with the requested absence and suggested she was simply using the back injury as an excuse to obtain time off.

During the same period of time Skinner had been suffering from nose bleeding and nose irritation. She believed the nasal problems were a result of the second-hand smoke she endured during the performance of her card-dealing duties. The Halifax Casino was exempt from municipal anti-smoking by-laws.