The Problem With Flatulence in the Workplace
Sometimes, a case will sound so strange and “out there” that you don’t believe it’s real the first time you hear about it. Sometimes, it sounds as though it is a set up for a bad joke. Then, when you learn a bit more about the case, you end up feeling bad that you laughed in the first place. Of course, with many people, when it comes to flatulence, such as in this case, there will always be a few giggles.
In some cases, there are employees that have no desire to abide by any type of hygiene or basic common decency standards. They do not care where they are flatulent, and they might even think it’s funny. Other times, a person suffers from a condition that causes issues with their digestion. This can lead to flatulence along with numerous trips to the bathroom. When this occurs in the workplace, it can cause quite a few problems.
It was the latter that was alleged to have led to a hostile work environment according to a lawsuit that was filed in 2015 in the New Jersey federal court. A man named Richard Clem worked for Case Pork Role Co., which was located in Trenton, New Jersey. He and his wife Luanne, who also worked at the company, claimed that his employer created a hostile work environment because they made statements about Mr. Clem’s flatulence. This flatulence was a result of a disability and it was not something he had any control over.
However, the employer said that they were receiving complaints from customers regarding the scent. This would not be a good situation for any type of company, much less one that sells food. Mr. Clem had been dealing with the medical situation since 2010 when he underwent gastric bypass surgery, but he was not fired until 2014.
Luanne Clem said that members of the management team made statements to her that she felt were offensive. She said they caused her to feel embarrassed and as though they were ridiculing her. All of this, they said was because of her husband’s condition. After her husband was terminated, she said that she felt that she needed to quit because of the ridicule she was suffering while at the job. She quit the same day he was fired.
The court did not feel that the hostile work environment claim met the standards of hostility. Instead, they said that the comments by the employers seemed to have been out of actual concern for Mr. Clem. Therefore, the judge dismissed the case.
In a case like this, you really do have to feel bad for just about everybody involved. The flatulence from the employee may well have bothered coworkers, as well as customers. It was understandable that the company may have been concerned. However, it is also sad on the part of the sufferer of this condition and his wife, as they felt as though they were no longer welcome in the workplace and they lost their place of employment.