Employee smells a rat in office prohibition on fragrances – New York News

Carrie Mason-Draffen


Mason-Draffen, a business reporter, writes a column about workplace issues.

DEAR CARRIE: I have worked in the same multistory building for years. About 50 employees work in my area. Recently, a few colleagues announced that they are sensitive to certain fragrances and complained to management about their use in the office. The majority of employees, including myself, have not noticed any strong fragrances. But prompted by the complaints, the supervisors, human-resource and the legal departments called a joint meeting with the staff and announced that, effective immediately, our area of the building will be fragrance free. So none of the staff is permitted to wear cologne, perfume, aftershave or scented versions of lotions, hair products, deodorant and talcum powder. Is this legal and, if so, is the company obligated to purchase the fragrance-free items it insists we use? — Smells Fishy

DEAR SMELLS FISHY: Even though the policy is broad, it’s probably legal, a workplace law expert said.

“Employers can make any work rule they want as long as it isn’t discriminatory,” said Lewis Maltby, president and founder of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton.

But he doesn’t agree…

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