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, 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 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