Fragrances in the workplace – sensitive employees could be protected under new US law

An interesting article on the hrtools (Build a Better Business) website:

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended and signed into law on Sepember 28, 2008 employers should be aware that the law, known as the ADAAA, clearly states that employers and the courts should more broadly interpret the term “disability.”

While a fragrance sensitivity disability claim may seem far-fetched or trivial to some, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “Fragrance sensitivity can be considered a disability; therefore, it can require reasonable accommodation.”

Unfortunately what can smell like a lovely basket of rose petals to one employee might cause another employee to feel downright sick. And if that employee complains about the fragrance and explains that he or she has a related physical or mental limitation—and the employer fails to make reasonable accommodations—the employer might be putting the business at risk.

Which is why ongoing managerial and employee sensitivity training is essential these days in the American workplace...

March 2010


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