older lawsuit, fired employees
Quote:1994-02-11: METRO NEWS BRIEFING BOULDER Smoker sues Boulder firm
(News Article found and donated by "Why_Nut")

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
February 11, 1994
BYLINE: Rocky Mountain News staff

METRO NEWS BRIEFING BOULDER Smoker sues Boulder firm

A Lakewood man who claims he was fired from his job because he smokes is suing a Boulder company for violation of Colorado's so-called Smoker's Rights Law. Paul Sherer is suing Access Graphics Inc., claiming the Boulder company fired him after he was seen smoking on the Pearl Street Mall during his lunch hour. Sherer, who has smoked since age 18, was hired by Access Graphics on May 17 as a financial service area manager. Access Graphics, which distributes high-end computer work stations and computer peripherals, would not comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesman said the company won't hire smokers in order to control health-insurance costs.

Quote:1994-04-28: HEADLINE: Ban on Employees Who Smoke Faces Challenges of Bias
(News Article found and donated by "Why_Nut")

The New York Times
April 28, 1994
HEADLINE: Ban on Employees Who Smoke Faces Challenges of Bias

A growing number of private employers around the country are refusing to hire smokers as a quick-and-easy way to hold down health care costs. But just as swiftly, state legislatures are coming to the smokers' defense, passing laws that prohibit hiring practices that discriminate against them.

While a hiring ban is a relatively new tactic -- less than 10 years old -- in the war against smoking, thousands of companies in the United States have forbidden their employees to smoke, even off the job. Companies say that not hiring smokers not only saves money but also improves safety conditions, cuts down on absenteeism and minimizes the need to train new employees to replace those who retire early because of lung cancer, emphysema and other diseases related to smoking.

When a Lockheed plant in Marietta, Ga., announced this month that it would no longer hire people who smoke cigarettes, company executives said that nearly 77 percent of the plant workers with cardiac problems were smokers. They also cited a study by the American Lung Association that showed an employee who smoked could cost a company up to $5,000 a year more in annual insurance premiums than a nonsmoker.

A Congressional study said that in 1990, the last year for which figures were available, the direct cost of providing health care to people with smoking-related diseases had reached nearly $21 billion. And that did not include nearly $7 billion in lost wages for employees out sick.

"Our goals with this new policy are to move toward becoming a smoke-free facility," said James A. Blackwell, president of the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company in Marietta. "Accomplishing these goals will ultimately help lower our costs, improve our competitive position and put Lockheed in a better position to win new business."

The Marietta plant employs about 11,000 people and makes military planes like the C-130 Hercules transport and the P-3 Orion for maritime patrols. Beginning July 2, new employees must sign a statement promising not to smoke. The ban operates on the honor system and means, in effect, that new hires cannot light up even at home. Anyone found by a fellow worker smoking in a bar, restaurant or anyplace else could be dismissed.

The new policy does not affect current employees, who are allowed to smoke at designated places at the plant and anywhere else on their own time.

As aggressive as the hiring ban might appear, similar efforts by other companies have backfired by prompting a stampede of state laws written specifically to protect smokers against such discrimination. Five years ago no such laws existed. By last year, 28 states and the District of Columbia had enacted legislation to protect smokers, and experts say that initiatives by employers in states that have no smokers' rights law, like Georgia, could ultimately help get one passed.

Federal statutes protect against discrimination in hiring but for the broader reasons of race, religion, age and gender.

Once enacted, the state laws generally cause companies to lift the hiring restriction, as Litho Industries, commercial printers in Research Triangle Park, N.C., did last year after passage of a law in 1992. But not always.
Four years after Colorado approved a law that protected smokers, another Lockheed subsidiary, Access Graphics, a computer wholesale company in Boulder, continues to deny employment to smokers for reasons a spokeswoman would not explain. One former worker who said he was dismissed after a colleague spotted him smoking on the street during a lunch hour last year is suing the company.

"This is blatant discrimination," said Paul Sherer, an accounts manager who lasted less than a week at Access Graphics. "Not hiring smokers affects millions of people and puts them in the same category as woman able to bear children as people who contribute to higher health care costs. It's unfair."

Further, the hiring bans have been generating widespread criticism, including some from antismoking activists. The critics contend that the bans violate the right to privacy and tend to deny jobs to people who may need them most: Despite a general decline in smoking in the United States, an increasing number of teen-agers, women and blacks are bucking the trend.


ST Page 49

"Ramsey said he was considering posting a reward. When he was asked again about possible suspects, he repeated the name of Jeff Merrick, who had been through a messy firing from Access Graphics.

Then he added another ex-employee, whose name he had forgotten but who had been fired for lying on his application by saying he did not smoke. The company had paid a $15,000 settlement when he sued."

My note, Merrick's job was eliminated and he received about 6 months severance pay. That happened in 1996 and may have been smarting still.
2000-03-18: “Death of Innocence”
Written by John and Patsy Ramsey, March 18, 2000

DOI Page 166

"Another former Access Graphic employee had been fired because he had physically assaulted one of our female employees while at work. In his departing interview he sarcastically told his boss, who had just adopted a baby from China, "I hope you enjoy your new daughter" and then left the room. The man took this as a threat against his adopted daughter. That released employee had, in fact, been inside our house in the fall of 1996 to do some work on our Apple computer."
“Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, JonBenet and the City of Boulder”
Written by Lawrence Schiller, February 18, 1999

PMPT Page 171sb
Don't know if he was fired but he was an ex-employee...

"During the following week, Thomas and Gosage continued their interviews with Access Graphics employees. Michael

PMPT Page 172sb

Minard and Jason Perkins, who Don Paugh had noticed at the dinner at Pasta Jay's, were questioned. Curtis Fisher, a close friend of John Ramsey's and a consultant to Access Graphics, was also interviewed. The police had heard that Fisher and Ramsey had a disagreement, and they found it interesting that Fisher left Access Graphics just before Christmas. In their interviews with him, however, Fisher said he had left the firm on friendly terms. On the morning of December 26, he had been on his way to San Antonio. When they reached the end of their interviews with company employees, the police had not yet uncovered any evidence to suggest a link to the murder of JonBenet."
Another man from AG whose names managed to get in the police files was Curtis Fisher. He quit his job at Access Graphics in December of 1996, was very angry at John Ramsey. Not sure of the circumstances but my source said he owed money for some reason.

This is the only mention I have of him is one note so he is far from a suspect in my book but the name is out there and has been for some time.

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