Smell the Bouquet of Legal Issues

This post was authored by Sarah R. Lustig. A recent case is a good reminder to employers that scent and chemical sensitivities can indeed be considered a disability subject to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  John Barrie (Barrie) suffers from allergic sensitivities and reactions to multiple chemicals.  He informed his supervisor of his disability when he was hired by the California Department of Transportation in 2005 (DOT).  The DOT informally accommodated his disability during the first five years of his employment.  After Barrie started reporting to a new supervisor in 2010, he began finding chemicals in his office. Barrie made numerous written and verbal complaints.  These complaints led to hostility and retaliation at work.  Barrie filed suit after supervisors repeatedly ignored management directives to keep perfumes and cleaning chemicals, like Windex and…

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