Increased awareness of smoking as a health hazard in the workplace has resulted in a push for more stringent no-smoking rules. The restriction of smoking to restrooms, lunchrooms, and other confined areas is likely to cause disputes leading to arbitration cases. Management's right to impose such restrictions will be challenged by unions seeking to retain the status quo for their members.
Arbitrators of such disputes will face three major questions: arbitrability, past practice, and just cause. Contract provisions will control, but if the contract is silent, the decision is likely to be based on the arbitrator's perception of the scope of management's rights and the arbitrator's authority to determine the reasonableness of rule changes and their effect on employee status.