Working from home may be ADA right

by Walter Olson on August 23, 2012

An Ohio federal court decision, in the case of a woman complaining of sensitivity to the perfumes worn by co-workers, may herald a new dawn of ADA telecommuting rights. I explain at Cato at Liberty.

{ 5 comments }

1 CTrees 08.23.12 at 2:39 pm

Without knowing the details, it seems the company could equally have declared a scent-free workplace, banning the offending perfumes, similar to how schools are deciding to ban peanuts. This would actually likely be the cheaper solution to letting the woman work despite her allergies.

Actually looking forward to the resolution to this one, being in essentially the same class of “wishing the ADA did more to recognize and protect sufferers of extreme allegies,” for purely self-interested reasons.

2 DEM 08.23.12 at 3:34 pm

CTrees why do you think an “extreme allergy” is at issue here? Walter’s link says the plaintiff claims “chemical sensitivity” wihich, as I understand it, is not an allergy, but an “allergy-like” condition which (surprise!) has no known medical cause and can manifest itself in almost innumberable ways (read: not objectively verifiable).

As for whether it is the cheaper solution to ban the “offensing perfumes,” I would tend to doubt it, unless you are aware of an easy mechanism for turning companies into the perfume police, allowing the “legal” perfumes and banning the “offensing” ones. And I suppose next on the list, cologne, shampoo, hair styling products, deodorants, clothes detergent, fabric softeners . . .

3 DensityDuck 08.23.12 at 4:17 pm

“Without knowing the details, it seems the company could equally have declared a scent-free workplace, banning the offending perfumes, similar to how schools are deciding to ban peanuts. ”

You know all those silly stories about wacky warning labels and ridiculous restrictions?

This is how those stories get started.

4 Mike 08.24.12 at 9:43 am

I’m with DEM on this one…I was involved in a case in which a woman occupant in an apartment complex declared that she was chemically sensitive to : wet paint, garbage (in plastic bags), smoking, outdoor barbecuing by her neighbors, perfume, etc., and attempted to have the local human rights agency prosecute a case for her. The agency declined. The research of available literature I conducted at the time (a few years ago) did not support the existence of “extreme chemical sensitivity” as a disability.
Looking back, I think that the relief this woman sought would have given her control/veto power over many of the daily activities of her neighbors. Am I cynical to think that may have been her real motivation?

5 John Rohan 08.25.12 at 7:41 am

“The Simpsons” had an episode very simliar to this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King-Size_Homer

Comments on this entry are closed.