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Flatulence earns worker reprimand

Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

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Turn up your noses if you must, but this is one of those tales that can only occur in that vortex of life, work and bureaucracy.

The US Social Security Administration reprimanded an employee last month for allegedly creating a "hostile work environment" by regularly passing gas at the office, according to an official letter sanctioning the worker.

The agency said it withdrew its action against the employee before the letter was publicised.

"When senior management became aware of the reprimand it was immediately rescinded," agency spokeswoman Dorothy J Clark.

The agency also did not respond to questions about the status of the employee and what actions it has taken instead to address co-workers' concerns.

The reprimand letter, which came from the agency's Office of Disability Operations, cited 60 documented instances of the worker passing gas in his office over about 12 weeks

The episodes occurred as much as nine times a day, according to a log the employee's supervisors created after his alleged offenses continued for more than three months.

According to the reprimand letter, the man told a supervisor in July that he would start turning on a fan in his work space, but the manager said such action would only "cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module."

In August, the man told a supervisor that he was lactose intolerant and would find something to help deal with his problem, the letter said. But the log showed the issue continued for the next several months.

The worker provided proof of medical conditions that could prevent him from working full days at times, but the disability operations manager said: "Nothing that you have submitted has indicated you would have uncontrollable flatulence. It is my belief that you can control this condition."

- Washington Post

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