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Thursday, March 3, 2005 12:38 am

common sense 3-3-05

art1847

How far would you let a boss push you? Perhaps your boss keeps refusing to raise your pay and also cuts your health-care coverage. Still, good jobs are hard to find, so you stick it out. But what if the boss then has surveillance cameras installed to keep an eye on you and also requires on-the-job drug testing? This invasion of privacy angers you, but you need the job, so you shrug it off.

But next the boss wants you to follow you out of the workplace and control what you do on your own time. If you do things after hours that do not conform to your boss’s own particular beliefs, you’re fired. Would you put up with that?

Believe it or not, more and more bosses are insisting that they have the right to monitor and regulate the activities of employees off the job, even perfectly legal activities. Howard Weyers is one such boss. He’s honcho of Weyco, an insurance-management corporation in Michigan. Weyers doesn’t like smokers, so he has instituted an anti-smoking policy.

Fine . . . except that Weyers’ policy outlaws smoking off the job as well as on. He has imposed random mandatory breath-analysis tests on his 200 employees. If they fail once, they’re fired. For Weyers, a former football coach, it’s a matter of making people better — more virtuous, even. He says he used to hone his players “mentally and physically” — and, he says, “That’s what we need to do in the workplace.”

Excuse me, but who made Weyers our nanny? If he can be the no-smoking dictator, other bosses can dictate that employees can’t have a beer after work, must go to a particular kind of church on Sunday, or can’t have partisan bumper stickers on their cars.

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