Another “Left-field” Challenge for HR Professionals and Employers: A No-Scent Policy

Posted by in Workplace Management | Comments Off on Another “Left-field” Challenge for HR Professionals and Employers: A No-Scent Policy

It may seem absurd to some that an employee could sue his or her employer about the perfume or other scents a co-worker is wearing, but that is what happened to the City of Detroit.

A city employee went to court because she claimed her rights were violated according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, when her health suffered, having been exposed to various personal scents of other workers.

She asked the city to implement a no-scent policy or other means to accommodate her chemical sensitivity. When it refused, she sued. The city tried to have the suit dismissed, but when denied, it settled with the city worker. Because the case was settled, the court was unable to rule whether chemical sensitivity qualifies as a disability under the Act.

The lesson for employers is to address this issue proactively by listening to such complaints seriously and considering the development of a specific policy. That forward thinking can eliminate the costs of a lawsuit and interruptions or ill feelings in the workplace.

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