Metal Yarmulke
Sunday, August 31, 2003

Stank: Now with ADA Protection!

Murfreesboro sets body odor policy for city employees

Posted by: George Metaxas, 8/25/03, 4:44 p.m.

City officials say one smelly employee is responsible for a new policy that requires all city employees to smell nice when reporting for work. The Murfreesboro City Council adopted the good hygiene policy Thursday: "No employee shall have an odor generally offensive to others when reporting to work. An offensive body odor may result from a lack of good hygiene, from an excessive application of a fragrant aftershave or cologne or from other cause."

City attorney Susan McGannon said the problem had never come up in the 11 years she has worked for the city. But one employee, who was not named, has a problem with hygiene despite repeated counseling. "They were stymied," McGannon said. "This (amendment) further details the city's authority." The definition of body odor was left intentionally vague. City Councilman Toby Gilley said the standard would be the same one a U.S. Supreme Court justice used to identify pornography. "We'll know it when we see it," Gilley said. "We'll know it when we smell it."

Murfreesboro is about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.


I saw this story yesterday on MSNBC, I think, being tossed around like a football among a pack of talking heads. Two of them — Gloria Allred, former feminist attorney, now "victims' rights attorney" — and Brian Wice, a criminal defense attorney, were outraged that the Powers That Be would dare pass such a rule.

Allred was a bit less confrontational in her argument, mentioning that B.O. often results from a medical condition and can be impervious to the daily shower, and so therefore a stinky employee might be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(Of course, gubmint hacks employees usually have top-notch health plans, and bromidrosis — medicalese for stank — can be treated with medication, I've heard. But where's the payoff in that?)

Wice, by contrast, was the archetypal shark in a suit. He encouraged the unnamed employee to sue the shit out of the city, then made your typical Damnyankee snark about how "hopefully, indoor plumbing in MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE is no longer a luxury."

So if the human Limburger does sue, and win, not only will you have to spend hours at the DMV dealing with surly and semi-literate warm bodies, but you'll have to bring a clothespin along, or perhaps some Vicks to smear on your philtrum.

Incidentally, the friend who was watching MSNBC with me used to work in the hotel industry. Shortly before she moved on to greener pastures, she had a co-worker who was transferred from the "back of the house" (admin) to the "front of the house" (working with guests). She had to say to his supervisor, "You really need to tell him he has to shower every day, wear deodorant every day, and launder his blazer as well as his other clothing after each wear."

Two guesses (ribbit) what country (ribbit) he came from (ribbit). 
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