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Thursday, 04 January 2018 00:00

Body odor becomes the centerpiece of a new lawsuit filed against the city of Indianapolis.

Written by Jonathan Druckman

On December 21, 2017, a former staff member in the Magistrate Court filed the lawsuit after she attempted to remedy office complaints about an employee’s body odor.

The incident stems back to November 2016 when other employees and staff began complaining about a fellow coworker’s “chronic body odor”. Amber Bridges, who was a former employee within the Justice of the Peace Court, brought the issue to the attention of her superior.

Bridges then installed air fresheners throughout the workplace in order to improve the air quality. However, this action then allegedly resulted in an avalanche of fellow employees also placing air fresheners in the office.

The following year, in May of 2017, Bridges’ was notified that the employee with the body odor had complained to Human Resources at the Court about the use of the air fresheners. Bridges’ supervisor than informed her that she was responsible for creating a hostile work environment toward that coworker. Bridges who was hired in 2010, was then released from her job after nearly seven years on the job. As a result of the termination, Ms. Bridges has filed a lawsuit, claiming wrongful termination. According to the complaint, Bridge had an unblemished employment record during her time with the Justice of the Peace Court. The lawsuit also alleges that the employer’s conduct “was outrageous and malicious”, and “was intended to injure Bridges, and was done with reckless indifference to Bridges' protected civil rights, entitling her to an aware of punitive damages.”

Now Bridges’ is claiming that her firing was unlawful. The reason she is claiming that her termination was illegal is because of her association with an individual with a disability. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers body odor a protected disability in some cases. Other common situations involve an employee who develops a smell sensitivity to perfume or something else. An employer could make reasonable accommodations for the employee to lessen the issue. For example, the person could be put in a position that does not involve contact with customers or a front office position. Or an employer could provide a private work area supplemented with an air-purification system.

Wrongful termination claims can be based upon a wide variety of factors. If you believe that you have been fired by your employer without a valid reason, you may have a potential claim and should contact an experienced lawyer without delay to discuss your rights.

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