Michelle Capewell, a 41-year-old from Abbey Hulton, told the Staffordshire Sentinel that she had been asked to leave the branch of Mothercare where she works, after absent-mindedly using an e-cigarette in front of customers. She said it was in her pocket and she used it without thinking.
She could be the first on record to face problems for using an e-cigarette, but plenty of people have been sacked because of their smoking habits.
SuspendedCapewell worked at a PixiFoto booth inside a Stoke-on-Trent branch of Mothercare. She told the newspaper that she was talking to her area manager and was fairly stressed, so she reached into her pocket for the e-cigarette without thinking. She was phoned shortly afterwards by a manager, who asked her to leave the store immediately.
PixiFoto told the Daily Mail that she was still employed by the company, but was on paid leave while the company 'investigate other issues.'
The use of e-cigarettes is difficult territory. While they do not produce the fumes that smoke does, and are not thought to be harmful to co-workers or customers, there's the question of company image to consider.
Sacked for smokingCapewell may be the first to hit the headlines over use of an e-cigarette at work. However, there's no end of people who have been in trouble with their boss for smoking. We tracked down five of the more unusual cases.
1. In 2004, when the smoking ban was new to Ireland, a member of the Irish Parliament fell foul of the new law. John Deasy smoked in the parliamentary members' bar and was immediately sacked.
2. In 2010, two supermarket employees were evacuated from the building, after a fire alarm went off. To pass the time they both had a cigarette. However, they were spotted by a manager, and because they were outside a designated smoking area they were fired.
3. In 2001 a salesman was sacked for smoking at home. He was employed by a Swindon company which said it did not allow smoking. But while he realised he wouldn't be allowed to smoke at work, he didn't realise the ban applied to his spare time too. He let the fact slip on his second day and was dismissed.
4. Then last year there was the case of the Australian who was sacked for smoking at work. He was working underground in a coal mine at the time.
5. And finally, there was the Canadian man who tweeted this August that he was in need of some pot. Police read the tweet and called on him, then his bosses heard the news and he was fired.