Disabilities and a Fragrance-Free Workplace

from the September 2012 LEL Labor and Employment Law News

A recent case considered whether an employee who worked for a county agency and who suffered from severe sensitivity to certain perfumes had a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act to request a fragrance-free workplace. After she suffered a severe attack at work, her co-workers retaliated against her in a number of ways, including continuing to wear the perfume that led to the attack. The employee eventually filed a claim under the Americans with Disability Act and under Ohio Law. Core v. Champaign County Board of County Commissioners, Case No.3:11-cv-00166 (S.D. Ohio July 30, 2012)

The court concluded that the record showed that plaintiff employee’s request for an official workplace policy for a fragrance-free workplace was reasonable, given her co-worker’s “‘thoroughly unconscionable behavior’ . . . of mocking plaintiff's severe allergic reaction just days after exposure to perfume . . . sent the employee to the emergency room for treatment”. The decision also makes it clear that it did not look with favor on the employer’s failures to reprimand the employees and to take actions to protect the plaintiff’s rights..