“Portland sued for workplace fragrance use”

Two years ago the city of Portland, Ore. became the first to adopt a voluntary policy against fragrance use in city offices. (A similar Detroit measure had been taken in response to a lawsuit.) Now Julee Reynolds, a city worker who says she suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), has sued Portland for allegedly not doing enough to enforce the policy. [KOIN; earlier here, here, etc.]


  • None of this is new. Twenty-five years ago I was at a gaming session on Riverside Drive. One player apologized but said he had a nicotine addiction and so he had to smoke. Another said he was allergic to tobacco. The compromise was to open all the windows. On a cold February day with thirty-mile-an-hour winds whipping throughout.


  • Sued for not enforcing a “voluntary” policy on a psychological “problem”. MCS is psychosomatic – these poor folks talk themselves sick.


    “Blinded clinical trials have shown MCS patients react as often and as strongly to placebos, including clean air,[2][3] as they do to the chemicals they say harm them. This has led some in the healthcare profession to believe MCS symptoms are due to odor hypersensitivity[4] or are mainly psychological.”

  • The action is voluntary, meaning that if someone wears aftershave or perfume, they won’t be fired on the spot. Instead a supervisor will take disciplinary action that could include making a note in the worker’s permanent file. It’s a three-strikes system wherein three fragrance offenses means the employee could be fired.

    This is obviously the Orwellian definition of the word voluntary.

  • Psychosomatic, for $50