Bias Suit Involves Other Employees' Fragrances
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit accusing a grocery store of violating federal law by refusing to accommodate a pharmacy worker who is severely allergic to cosmetic fragrances.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleges a female employee with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease requested that Jewel-Osco ask her co-workers not to wear fragrances, such as cologne and after-shave, while working in the pharmacy with her. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, the EEOC said that on one occasion, the employee passed out in the workplace and was taken to a hospital because of a severe allergic reaction to a co-worker's fragrance.
"Our position in this case is that Jewel-Osco could have raised the issue with the few employees who worked in the pharmacy with the charging party who had COPD," says EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson. "Together, we contend, they could have explored how her disability might have been accommodated in a way which would have satisfied both the charging party and her co-workers, without any undue hardship for Jewel-Osco."
For more information on fragrance sensitivity in the workplace, see HR.BLR.com's White Paper: Fragrances, Allergies, and the Workplace and the Fragrances section of the Dress Codes topic.