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City Employee Sues Over Perfume Stink in the Workplace

March 17, 2010

In recent employment news that our Riverside, California Employment Attorneys have been following, a city planner in Detroit, Michigan sued the city in a federal employment lawsuit, claiming that her colleague's perfume and fragranced room spray made it hard for her to effectively do her job, as the scents caused serious health reactions.

According to the lawsuit, McBride, an employee of the city, complained to her supervisor that she was sensitive to chemicals, and that the room scent and perfume of a colleague made it difficult for her to breath--thus making it hard for her to do her job. Her allergic reactions to the scents reportedly induced nausea, coughing and migraines. After her boss didn't respond to her complaints, McBride sued the city under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a recent CBS morning report, guest lawyer Joelle Sharman claimed that employees have the right to breathe without irritation while working to effectively do their job. If an employee complains to their supervisor that another employees perfume is causing a health condition that interferes with their ability to work, than it is the boss's responsibility to provide reasonable accommodation for that employee.

The city reportedly fought the lawsuit, claiming that there was no medical diagnosis of her condition and that she is not disabled.

According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, fragrance sensitivity can be an actual allergy, or irritation. A good way to prevent fragrance sensitivity is to avoid all contact with the chemical, and discuss the sensitivity with people at work to help limit exposure to other employee's fragrances. Fragrance sensitivity can be considered as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

McBride was awarded $100,000 and officials plan to post warnings in the three buildings where McBride works, to instruct employees not to wear perfumes, scented creams or lotions, colognes, aftershave, heavy deodorants, scented candles or air fresheners, or wear perfume samples from magazines. The government's employee handbook and the training about the Americans with Disabilities Act will also reportedly reflect the warnings.

Fox News called this a landmark court decision, and it could be the start of many lawsuits dealing with fragrance sensitivities in the workplace.

If you or someone you know in Orange County or throughout Southern California has a labor or employment issue, our team of Anaheim-based team of attorneys and professionals can help find a solution for your recovery. Call today for a free consultation at 1-800-872-5925.

Stink Over Perfume at Detroit Workplace, CBS Early Show, March 16, 2010

New Anti-Perfume Rules in Detroit May Cause a Legal Stink, Fox News, March 16, 2010

Detroit City Workers Being Warned to Go Scentsless, The Associated Press, March 16, 2010

Detroit City Employees Discouraged from Wearing Strong Scents, The Detroit News, March 14, 2010

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy: Job Accommodation Network (JAN)