Legal Research Methods & Reasoning: Module #2 Problem

You work in the Legal Department of Biosphere, Inc.  Assume that Biosphere is incorporated and located in Florida.  One day, you accompany the lawyer who you work for to a meeting with company executives.  These executives want to know if they can implement a smoking cessation[1] program for Biosphere employees. 

Biosphere has long banned smoking on its premises and has progressively moved from providing special areas for smokers (located outside the building) to smoke-free areas (the entire building).  Most recently, Biosphere executives have imposed a smoking ban on all company property, including parking lots.  The net result of these efforts is that employees are not permitted to smoke while at work or while on Biosphere property.

A smoking cessation program is the logical next step for Biosphere, but the executives are concerned about the following issues:

  • The legal implications of implementing a smoking cessation program
  • The extent of Biosphere’s power to fire employees who refuse to participate in the smoking cessation program
  • Advice on how the program should be structured

After the meeting, your boss explains that Florida is a strong “right to work” state, which means that employers are free to hire or fire any person for any non-discriminatory reason.  In other words, absent some protection given by the law, a person can be fired or not hired for any reason, including whether the person smokes.

You have ten weeks to gather the information that your boss will need to advise the Biosphere executives.  Assume that you know nothing about smoking cessation programs.

Your work on this case will determine the contours of Biosphere’s smoking cessation program and the fate of the non-compliant employees.  To assist you in your research, your boss gives you a case, Wymsylo v. Bartec, and a NY Times article, Seeking Savings, Employers Help Smokers Quit.

Module 2 Assignment:

After reading the materials in the Module 2 Reading Assignment, please post your responses to the following questions to the Module 2 Discussion Board.

1.       What pros and cons are likely to be voiced by Biosphere employees about a smoking cessation program?

2.       What additional information might you need to know before beginning your research?

[1] Click on this link for background information about smoking cessation programs. 

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