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Woman Claims Boss 'Degraded' Her By Confronting Her About Her 'Horrible' Smell In Front Of Coworkers

Photo: PICHA Stock / Pexels
Women in the workplace

As a manager or supervisor, it’s hard to deliver uncomfortable news about personal hygiene to a subordinate to an employee — it takes empathy, tact, and a way with words.

A woman took to the Workplace Bullying subreddit to complain about her boss’s reaction to the “light” perfume she wore to work.

She claims that her boss embarrassed her in front of her coworkers.

The post starts with the Redditor sharing that she works at a children’s center.

She has been wearing the same scent to work for years and has never had an issue, according to her.

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That all changed when her boss made a comment that she smelled “something horrible” at work a few days before the woman shared her story.

Unable to validate the odor, the employee said she was wearing a light perfume but didn’t notice anything pungent.

She continued about her workday, oblivious to the wrath of her boss that she was soon to experience.

Fast forward a few days when the boss approached her angrily and demanded she stop wearing the perfume to work.

She claimed she could “smell it all over the center and hallways.”

The woman didn’t detail whether or not she responded verbally to the rude request but acknowledges the shame and degradation she felt due to the situation.

She has agreed to discontinue using the fragrance while at work, but now she wonders if this was the right way to handle the situation.

One person commented, “So the rude comment was just that they can smell it? It’s become more normal to have to “no” perfume/cologne policies in the workplace.”

“I personally hate artificial scents. They are all so repulsive and so often overwhelming because people pour it on by the gallon. What if you had a coworker who wore a scent that really bothered you daily? How would you handle it?”

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“I’m not saying they handled it well, but there’s probably no way they could have done it and not offended you, right?” This is absolutely incorrect.

While it’s true that many workplaces have "Fragrance-Free" policies that ban the use of personal products like perfume, cologne, and lotions, there is definitely a much better way to address these issues as they arise.

Many people have fragrance sensitivities and it’s important that places of work be conducive to all employees’ ability to perform.

Overlooking the need to accommodate an employee with a low scent tolerance can result in violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Enforcing a no-fragrance policy is a whole different problem.

Determining who is actually wearing a fragrance versus their natural body odor can result in disparate treatment or accusations of discrimination.

On the flip side, moving an impacted employee into isolation can create the same problem.

Fragrance-free policies should be applied to all employees in the exact same manner.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle, entertainment and news, and self-focused content, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.

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