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Everyone has a perfume or cologne that they love to wear. I know I certainly do. However, just because you have a scent that you love to spritz on before a night out doesn’t mean you should waltz into the office doused in it.

Why is this an issue you ask?


Fragrance sensitivity.


In fact, according to our client Shayna Balch, an attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Phoenix, in 2010 a city planner in Detroit won a substantial settlement against her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After the case, the employer adopted a strict “no-scent” policy that was effective office-wide.

Not sure how to determine if fragrance sensitivity is a disability or how to handle the awkward situation in the office? Ask yourself the following questions:

•           Has the employee met previously about the issue with anyone in human resources?

•           Does it appear to be a seasonal or everyday issue for the employee?

•           Is the employee showing physical or mental signs of distress based on the sensitivity?

•           Are these sensitivities limited work production?

•           Are there resources that can be made available to implement any types of accommodations?

Shayna’s tip to handle the situation?

“Sit down and listen to the employee’s issues, determine a plan of action together, document it for all parties involved and follow-up with the employee regularly,” said Balch.

A great resource for people with disabilities (and also an amazing client of ours) is Arizona Bridge to Independent Living.


Brittany Richardson
Brittany Richardson
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. I love these: “something smells fishy” and “there’s something wrotten in Denmark.” I’m sure they could pass the smell test.

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