News: Woman Sent Home For E-Cig Use At Work

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
October 9, 2013

article-2449591-1899E4BE00000578-709_634x420A woman in the United Kingdom is a little hot over being sent home from her job for using an electronic cigarette at work.  Although company representatives claim the incident is only being investigated, the woman claims she was fired for using an e-cig only once on the shop floor.

Michelle Capewell works (or worked depending on who you talk to) in a photo studio in a large baby products store called Mothercare.  After one use of her electronic cigarette on the store floor, a manager told her to get her stuff and leave.  According to Capewell, her transgression only happened once and had she been told not to anymore, she wouldn’t have.

But now, the story has blown up into a full on news story — seemingly pushed primarily by Capewell herself.  Maybe it’s a slow news week.

Capewell seems to be waging a media campaign against the company, hoping to ignite rage at the abuse of power or intolerance or whatever you want to call it.  Some electronic cigarette community members are in her corner but we are going to call shenanigans on this entire situation.  The entire story reeks of juvenile argument tactics.

Hopefully even the most stalwart defender of electronic cigarettes can see that employees on the clock look downright unprofessional toking an electronic cigarette.  This is particularly true in retail and service jobs where you are highly visible to customers.  Most likely, a customer saw her, and — most likely having small children or possibly being pregnant given the type of store Capewell worked in — voiced concern about the act.  Like any good manager, the best way to appease the enraged customer is to get the problem employee out of sight.

You can read the complete story here.

Maybe Capewell was fired or maybe she wasn’t.  Either way, the fact that this is news is rather flabbergasting.  And that Capewell seems to be the one that aired everyone’s dirty laundry may mean she isn’t welcome back with open arms.  There are managers all over that do the same thing to employees that pull out their cell phones on the job.  Should electronic cigarettes be any different?

Capewell is certainly trying to get people on her side.  Articles about the incident are quick to say that she’s a mother of 2 and she is already saying that she was fired — not just sent home.  She’s also telling the world that her electronic cigarette use helped her kick a 20-a-day smoking habit.  Capewell also claims that the store has no electronic cigarette policy in place and she didn’t know any better.

What do you think?  Did Capewell’s managers overreact?  Is the fact that the store didn’t have a clear policy on e-cigs a reasonable defense for Capewell’s actions?


31 Responses to “News: Woman Sent Home For E-Cig Use At Work”

      Sylvie on October 9th, 2013 4:45 pm

      sounds like she is exaggerating things some.. eitherway policy or not, she shouldn’t of been tooting on the store floor period!! its baby type of store afterall, have some manners..

        kyla on October 9th, 2013 5:55 pm

        i only use mine on a break off the clock not near customers. i dont feel she should be fired. they couldve easily just asked her not to use it unless on break or out of site from customers. but she also shouldve asked her employer their policy before just assuming she had the right to vape there.

          hallucinoJEN aka Jennifer A. on October 9th, 2013 8:31 pm

          Unless it’s a vape shop, an employee should vape off the clock. It does seem very unprofessional for an employee to vape while on the clock. Although, firing her instead of giving her a warning seems a little extreme.

            DocGrigsby on October 9th, 2013 8:40 pm

            Wish we could vape anywhere we wanted, but we cannot. So just be cool, and vape on. Stealth vaping in the restroom works.

              vapinrollin on October 9th, 2013 11:17 pm

              I think it was stupid for her to vape in front of her boss while on the clock and inside of the building. A warning would have sufficed, but I’m not shocked that a baby store would fire her. She should have vaped in the bathroom; I do it all the time and no one finds out. 🙂

                slap_maxwell on October 10th, 2013 2:22 am

                I haven’t had the gumption to look into this story, but no one should be fired for one transgression, especially absent official company policy.

                However, having lived in the UK for 6 years and having run a business there, I know that firing someone under this sort of circumstance isn’t a done deal. She could easily go before a tribunal and have the entire issue heard…more than likely, if things happened like she claims, she’d get her job back.

                  robovape on October 10th, 2013 9:26 am

                  her boss did what she forced him to do… “when in doubt, whip it out” is going to get vapers in trouble more and more often and the belief that it’s “easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” has always been terribly misguided advice… i don’t have to warn my employees, they know their job, they know the rules, if they don’t, they need to clarify, if they break them i can fire them, it’s that simple… i can bend some rules for them, it happens all the time, everywhere, but they know they need to ask first… “i told them it was okay” still leaves me in control of the situation, one of them going of the res and catching a smoke out the back door when i’m not looking makes me look like i’m not in control, and that’s what i’m there for, to control the situation… i’m not losing my job because the minions made me look like i’m not in control, i’m taking control and firing them… that’s just how it works, friends… that’s management 101…

                    unclerj on October 10th, 2013 10:27 am

                    Some common sense would have prevented this entire situation.

                    She should known there should be possible issues in regards to vaping on the floor much less around children and pregnant women. While she most likely is aware that second hand vape does not provide a health risk most likely the customers do not know this.

                    And she should have asked the manager if it was Ok to vape on the floor. Or just wait till she had a break and do it in a designated area or out of sight.

                    And lets not forget the manager.who had the option to just tell her that vaping on the floor was not acceptable and just warn her.

                      Shawn on October 10th, 2013 12:22 pm

                      It’s amazing how far the lie reaches about second hand smoke being deadly.
                      The anti smoking lobbyists got their way and got everyone -1 to believe that second hand smoke kills so now people are afraid of e cigs. We live in a nanny state and nannies can be strict, but nannies can be fired also. Remember that during the next election.

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