(AP) – 2 days ago
DETROIT — Change is in the air for Detroit city workers.
City employees will be urged not to wear perfume, cologne or aftershave as a result of a settlement in a federal lawsuit.
Officials plan to place warning placards in three city buildings. The signs will warn workers to avoid “wearing scented products, including … colognes, aftershave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body/face lotions … (and) the use of scented candles, perfume samples from magazines, spray or solid air fresheners.”
The employee handbook and Americans with Disabilities Act training also will bear warnings.
The Detroit News reports the move stems from a $100,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit filed in 2008 by a city employee who said a colleague’s perfume made it challenging for her to do her job.
Fox News adds the following:
Susan McBride is the employee who helped create the new policy. Working in Detroit’s Planning Department, she repeatedly asked a fellow employee to stop wearing strong perfume and to get rid of a plug-in air freshener.
When she felt the city did not act quickly enough to stop it, she sued. They settled for $100,000.
“To have it be perfume, to have it be a plug-in scent, and to have the parties be unable to work it out really is kind of unprecedented,” [attorney John] Holmquist said.
It’s just a matter of time, Holmquist said, before other people start smelling a lawsuit in their offices, too. The case represents a first for employers, but likely not a last.
“Certainly when it comes to fragrances and odors, I think most employers should say, ‘Look. We’re all adults. Why can’t we use a rule of reason.’ That would seem to be the best way,” said Holmquist.
Now, employees will have to wear deodorants and soaps that are lightly scented or with no scent at all and nix the colognes and perfumes altogether, but who makes sense of which fragrances are fuming and which ones are fair?
“It’s in the nose of the beholder, really,” Holmquist said.
Now, look. I agree that when you’re in a shared space, it’s rude to take up more than your fair share of that space, whether that’s by hogging both armrests in the movie theatre, sitting with your legs wide in an airplane row (which, when guys do it — and let’s face it, that’s most of the time — is sometimes referred to on the interwebz as Giant Invisible Schlong Syndrome, because surely they must need to spread their legs that far apart to accommodate some massive he-man-organ that we just cannot see), or, yes, by invading other people’s airspace with your fragrance. Yes, if the plug-in air freshener was causing problems, it should certainly be removed. That one isn’t really rocket surgery. And asking a coworker to reduce the amount of perfume she wears is perfectly within the bounds of reasonable, rational, grownup behavior. If you wear fragrance (and I do, every day), you are responsible for being respectful of shared space.
However — suing over it? Come on.
Being allergic to something is one thing. Merely disliking it is something else. What’s next? Can I sue if I can’t concentrate on my job because my coworker has halitosis? Eats too much Indian food? Smokes, even if it’s not in the workplace?
Perhaps the people of Detroit should just err on the safe side and not bathe at all for the next few weeks, so that they will not run the risk of using a scented soap or shampoo. I’m sure that would solve the problem.
Er, nothin’ new to see here – we went from feast to famine in the sale department. HauteLook will have Three Custom Color on Monday 3/22 starting at 11 am Eastern/8 am Pacific.
As usual, if something new comes off the wire, I’ll post it post-hastily.