A Social Security Administration worker has been cited by his superiors for ‘conduct unbecoming a federal officer,’ relating to his “Uncontrollable Flatulence” in the workplace. In a story on the Daily Mail Online the Maryland man, 38, was reportedly hit with a five-page reprimand Dec. 10 that included a meticulously crafted log of specific dates and times when coworkers observed – or overheard – him ‘releasing the awful and unpleasant odor’ in his Baltimore office.
Whilst this may be amusing to read this can be a very serious issue for employers to deal with and one which can require some tact and carefulness when addressing.
The letter’s log reportedly cited 17 dates – and 60 times – in which he passed so much gas the resulting miasma created an’ intolerable’ and ‘hostile’ workplace environment for those around him. For example, the man’s Sept. 19 output included nine bouts of flatulence, starting at 9:45 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m.
In the missive, an SSA manager reportedly notes, ‘nothing that you have submitted has indicated that you would have uncontrollable flatulence. It is my belief that you can control this condition.’ The employee had apparently submitted evidence to his superiors showing he suffered from “some medical conditions” that, at times, caused him to leave work early. The letter was likely not a surprise, as the worker was met with on three occasions prior to its receipt for behavior in the workplace his colleagues found “discourteous, disrespectful, and entirely inappropriate.”
Disrupting the workplace
On Aug. 14, the ’Deputy Division Director’ spoke with the worker about his ‘continuous releasing of your bodily gas and the terrible smell that comes with the gas.’ The manager informed the employee that he ‘could not pass gas indefinitely and continue to disrupt the work place.’
The formal reprimand followed which the worker’s manager noted, “is the least severe penalty available to impress upon you the seriousness of your actions and is necessary to deter future misconduct.”
As highlighted this is a serious issue when an employee may be suffering from an underlying medical issue, however there is the issue of fellow employees to be considered, and they also must be allowed to operate in an pleasant working environment. An employer will have to balance their responsibilities to both the worker and to the fellow employees and treat any such issues with sensitivity.