Federal employee receives a 5-page written warning for . . . farting?!?

December 26, 2012
By Eric B. Meyer on December 26, 2012 7:00 AM | | Comments

hoofhearted.jpgThe Employer Handbook generally likes to end the year on a classy, high note. Consequently....

The Smoking Gun reports here that, earlier this month, the Social Security Administration issued this 5-page formal reprimand to an employee for his "awful and unpleasant" flatulence.

{As opposed to my ambrosial flatulence. So lovely.}

In fact, the SSA concluded that the pungent poo-stink was so bad, that it created a "hostile work environment" for all co-workers.

{Note: Apparently, the SSA is not familiar with this Minnesota federal court decision, which recognized that farting does not contribute to a hostile work environment. I'll assume that some of my readers may have just learned a thing or two as well...}

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: Could this employee be disabled under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, such that the SSA would need to afford him a reasonable accommodation? Consider that, while the gas itself would not be a disability, it could be a symptom of an underlying disabling medical condition. Indeed, the warning memo does note that the employee is lactose intolerant. I'm going to assume that lactose intolerance would be considered a disability, because it interferes with one's ability to eat.

So what about a reasonable accommodation? The warning memo notes that the SSA did refer the employee to its Employee Assistance Program for assistance. But that didn't work. Increased ventilation didn't appear to work either. The warning memo notes that when the employee turned on a fan, it would "cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality." Apparently, the employee also looked into taking Gas-X, but that never materialized into anything, except Hades-level sulfur. Also, discussed were more frequent restroom breaks. But it appears that the employee couldn't contain himself for that long.

What about telecommuting? In certain instances, that may be a reasonable accommodation. If nothing less, that certainly would have improved the air quality at SSA for other employees. However, I'm guessing that the farter's job requirements would not comport with a telecommuting arrangement.

Therefore, it would appear that the only accommodations, if any, that the SSA could have offered would have resulted in undue hardship. And that's not reasonable. Consequently, you might say that the employee was sh*t outta luck.

Now may be a good time to mention that The Employer Handbook likes to end the year with bad puns as well.

Now somebody pull my finger.

And immaturity. Yeah, immaturity.

Image credit: atom.smasher.org, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.