January 15, 2005
Detroit Free Press (Michigan)
Some state employees must leave fragrance at home
by Chris Christoff
Free Press Lansing Bureau Chief
LANSING -- There's such a thing as smelling too good at the
Michigan Family Independence Agency.
The FIA has put its 1,000 headquarters employees on notice
that the fifth floor is off-limits to people wearing
strong-smelling perfume or lotions or who use scented soap
or shampoo. The odors can cause allergic reactions to two
employees on that floor, according to the FIA press office.
The two have suffered respiratory attacks after being
exposed to toiletry odors, an FIA memo says, adding that
for these employees the odors are as dangerous as
secondhand smoke. Smoking is banned in all state office
buildings. There is no policy for other odors.
Actually, the FIA's fifth floor has been fragrance-free for
about a year after one worker began having allergic
reactions, said FIA spokeswoman Maureen Sorbet. But the
awareness efforts have been renewed because a second
employee was moved to the floor after she suffered
asthma-like attacks that sent her to the hospital.
"We're really trying to go out of our way to accommodate
our staff and have people who work on that floor
accommodate the fact that these people have significant
allergies," Sorbet said.
Sorbet said the second employee filed a grievance because
she thought the FIA should take more steps, but a state
administrative law judge ruled that the no-smell zone was
This week, notices were posted around the 15-story
headquarters, alerting employees not to wear fragrances on
the fifth floor.
Sorbet said many personal grooming products are available
in unscented versions, although that's obviously not the
case for perfumes or colognes.
She said the only way to determine whether an item is
off-limits is if it has a residual odor.
Contact CHRIS CHRISTOFF at 517-372-8660 or
Copyright C 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.
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