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Flatulence Creates A Hostile Work Environment


In the news recently was a story regarding a Social Security Administration employee whose flatulence has, apparently, made his co-workers beyond mad. Supervisors cited him for creating a hostile work environment! The charges were later withdrawn after the reprimand letter went public on the Internet.
Reading the reprimand letter is quite interesting in that the dates and exact times the employee let loose with some olfactory offensiveness is recorded.   In order to reprimand, discipline or fire a US federal employee, there must be a plethora of documented evidence to substantiate the offenses and even then it is  nigh on impossible to actually remove them from their position or fire them.   This explains the detailed recording of every instance of flatulence this employee inflicted on his co-workers.   Someone had to have been pretty peeved to have spent the time documenting the incidents so as to provide a substantive platform for disciplining him.
Of course, all that work was for naught because Administration officials withdrew the reprimand when it went viral.   Mr. Rooting and Tooting is now free to can continue to affect the air quality in the workplace unimpeded despite knowing his co-workers and bosses find his flatulence to be quite rude.


{ 64 comments… add one }
  • SunGirl January 16, 2013, 1:32 am

    I’m a (state) government employee, and I mostly agree with PPs about how difficult it is to discipline employees. We had a big problem with one of our employees, and at the height of it, I was spending 3-4 hours a day documenting the problem and talking to our supervisor and HR. A recently-promoted manager friend of mine spends almost all his time dealing with personnel issues he inherited. And to be honest, it’s very difficult to find people with my skill set who will work for our state’s low salary scale, so I could probably commit outrageous acts and not get fired. And I end up setting aside that skill set to deal with the insane bureaucracy that all employees have to deal with…

    Based on my experience, I’m guessing there is more happening than what is in the letter. Either he was causing problems before (with the flatulence or something else), or someone has it in for him; in either case, this is what they could get to stick.

  • Lo January 16, 2013, 9:34 am

    Am I the only person that giggled reading this entire post? I’m sure it would be absolute hell having to work with this guy but it’s kind of a hillarious situation. Funny story to tell years later, at least.

  • kingsrings January 16, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Lo – I have also giggled like mad reading all this. It’s the kid in me, what can I say. But seriously, there are some people that really think that since farting is a bodily function that naturally occurs and everyone does is, there’s nothing wrong at all with letting loose whenever, wherever. Well, unless they want to be seen by others as a gross, smelly person, maybe they’d better think twice. Nobody has any right to inflict their gas upon others in the manner that this employee does. Medical conditions? Understandable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a responsibility to do something to stop it. Everyone has the right to work in an environment that is as fart-free as possible.

  • The Elf January 17, 2013, 12:06 pm

    If you want a giggle about it, check out the Washington Post online. There’s a humor blog (ComPost, Alexandra Petri) and she has a field day with it. It’s awesome reading.

  • E January 17, 2013, 4:03 pm

    @Schnikelfritz –
    Your coworker sounds like a difficult person to have around. I’m glad you recognize the noises and faces as some kind of disorder, something to politely ignored. The gas and the cooking smells seem like something different – they can be addressed and he can change his behavior. The adult thing to do would be to address it directly. “If you have to make that smell, could you please step into the restroom, it’s really noisome.” Or “Bob, would you mind holding off on the snack today, it really smells up the office.” Or “would you mind eating it elsewhere” or “would you mind eating a less smelly snack?”

    It’s sad that the boss is unwilling to do something about it. If you can befriend him a little bit, take him out for lunch and talk to him about it, it would be a really kind thing to do. If not, in your situation I would not be above leaving a polite and direct anonymous note. It’s really bad form to do that, I know – but I don’t know how you can put up with that kind of olfactory assault on a daily basis, and at least a note would bring it directly to his attention. Your coworker has been taking advantage of your collective decency – that you won’t say something. There’s no reason he can’t make minor behavioral or diet modifications, see a doctor, to keep the peace. It might read something like this:

    Dear Bob,
    The office would like to collectively make three requests of you.
    1. Please do not eat the spinach concoction in the afternoon. It smells up the whole office, and is nausea-inducing. You would do us a great favor if you chose a different, odor-free afternoon snack.
    2. If you must pass gas, please do so in the bathroom. The smell is noxious, and again, nausea-inducing.
    3. Please see a doctor about your gas. It is not normal, and may be due to a treatable medical condition or may be due to some diet imbalance.
    Thank you,
    Your Coworkers

  • NicoleK January 18, 2013, 8:08 am

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that this guy isn’t trying to be rude, he just can’t help it.

    Although, if you look at the lists of farts he isn’t farting THAT often…. 1-8 times a day. So maybe it isn’t a bad case of gas that he can’t help since he seems to be farting a normal amount…

    But I’m inclined to guess his farts are sneaking up on him and he doesn’t have time to run away and fart elsewhere.

  • Brockwest January 18, 2013, 8:39 am

    There are two opposite answers here:
    1) For the borish clod who feels it his right to pass gas, I do think it correct and needed for the boss to take action.
    2) One must be VERY careful to privately ask if there is a medical condition at the root of the problem. Some people with colostomies are unable to control the noise and odor. It would be cruel to subject them to rules.

    I personally have a handicap that does not involve odor, but can make people upset who do not realize I have no control over the situation. I finally put a bold print notice on my office wall explaining the condition and that I have no control over it. That actually helped.

  • Enna January 19, 2013, 5:38 am

    This is tirckey, he could have a medical condition and if he does then his employers and colleagues have been very cruel to him.

    • Barbara October 13, 2014, 1:17 pm

      Yes, this has happened to me. I was formally spoken to last week concerning my smelly flatulent. Apparently there has been many complaints (not sure if it is all staff or some customers). I work at a convenience store. I was totally embarrassed. I cannot help this problem has I have Irritable Bowl Syndrome and Celiac Disease. The Celiac Disease is controllable with diet but the natural foods like fruit and vegetables is causing the smell. I was brought up that a lady never farts in public. So now it is even more embarrassing. Don’t know if I can go back to work as I will feel very self-conscious and worried which will cause stress in the work place which is definitely cause for termination.

  • mpk January 20, 2013, 5:44 pm

    I went to the “story” and read the people’s comments on there and someone saw a picture of the guy and his wife and stated that they were both obese. I have a feeling that they don’t eat right and the gas is probably controllable with a bit of effort. I just don’t think he’s making that effort at all.
    I don’t know how people can get their work done. i think i’d be leaving the area everytime he let one loose.
    Anyway, if you haven’t read the comments after the “story” – some of them are a real hoot.

  • mrb2563 September 2, 2013, 1:12 pm

    I had a problem with flatulence for years. I could not prevent it as it would sneak out. It happened so often that if I went to the bathroom every time I had to fart, I would never be able to do my job. It wasn’t until a co-worker was removed from my area that I realized the problem was gone. I originally thought it was a food allergy (all food 🙁 ) but now I know it was stress from all the distraction my co-worker caused.

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