Smells in the workplace can be incredibly off-putting – but when exactly does an annoyance turn into something more sinister?
A court in Melbourne, Australia, has thrown out a $2million case in which a worker claimed his boss was frequently and deliberately passing wind at him.
David Hingst, a contractor, accused his supervisor, Greg Short, of bullying – however, a judge ruled that passing wind on an employee does not constitute harassment.
According to reports, a former colleague put the flatulence down to ‘banter’ and claimed that the misunderstandings stemmed from cultural differences.
“Us Australians are sort of brought up you sort of accept it or think oh it's just – that's what happens,” he said.
In the end, the court ruled that the issues stemmed from redundancies rather than passing wind. Justice Zammit added: “Indeed, on (his) own evidence, had he not lost his job and been abused over the telephone, the flatulence would 'never have been a big issue.”
And whilst this case may seem like a stand-alone incident, the reality is smells in the office have the propensity to infuriate workers. A recent report from Robert Half found that just 42% of offices have a fragrance-free policy.
The most annoying office smells were overdone boy fragrances, stinky food having a strong fragrance, i.e. candles or flowers, on one’s desk.
We recently spoke to Shana French, lawyer at Sherrard Kuzz LLP, who revealed if and when HR can fire an employee for flaunting a bad body odour.