Federal Employee Disciplined After Gas Log Details Excessive Workplace Flatulence

250px-Gas_mask_MUA_IMGP0157In one of the more novel federal disciplinary actions that I have encountered, a federal employee in Baltimore was given a formal reprimand for excessive workplace flatulence — a reprimand that involved a remarkably wide range of reviews and supervisory interventions. The 38-year-old Maryland employee, who insists that he is lactose intolerant, was the subject of an actual log recording his “release[] [of] the awful and unpleasant odor.”


The December 10th letter detailed the flatulence basis for the change of “conduct unbecoming a federal officer” by the Social Security Administration employee and how his “uncontrollable flatulence” had created an “intolerable” and “hostile” environment for coworkers. The letter states that, despite his claims of a medical reason for the gas, there is no evidence of a medical condition by the employee to establish “uncontrollable flatulence.” The employee is represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which has supplied the gaseous worker with a lawyer (and presumably a breathing apparatus). One site has shown the employee posing with a Disney character. You guessed it, it is Pepe Le Pew.

The letter details a series of meetings with supervisors over the course of months. Interventions sought to stop the employee from turning on his fan during eruptions which tended “to spread and worsen the air quality in the module.” In another meeting a third supervisor was called in and this SSA “Deputy Division Director” warned the worker about his “continuous releasing of your bodily gas and the terrible smell that comes with the gas.” The worker told the manager that he was thinking of buying Gas-X after

He was finally presented with a log showing “the time of your flatulence” — listing 17 separate dates (and 60 specific times). Notably, on September 11th, the worker was accused for releasing gas on three separate occasions.

Now here is my question. How does the SSA quantify or measure the level of flatulence as the basis for a formal disciplinary measure? I am not sure of the baseline if some flatulence is considered normal and permissible. We have seen actual flatulence-based criminal charges which have the same interpretive problem. Moreover, if the employee is lactose intolerant, does this make the gas a medically protected condition or disability? I assume that lactose intolerance is considered a controllable condition and does not constitute a disability — except to those around you.

If this is considered controllable, would the continued release constitute a form of battery or negligence or nuisance or even an intentional infliction of emotional distress?

What do you think?

Source: ABC

46 thoughts on “Federal Employee Disciplined After Gas Log Details Excessive Workplace Flatulence

  1. What a toot…
    “The letter states that, despite his claims of a medical reason for the gas, there is no evidence of a medical condition by the employee to establish “uncontrollable flatulence.”

    I would think Lactose Intolerance would be a poor excuse, as it is possible to avoid Lactose….perhaps eating cheese for this guy is like loading a gun? On the other hand, I just had an x-ray of my back and the Dr. asked me if I had excessive flatulance, compression of the spine leads to many strange things apparently. I hope this guy gets a thorough physical to find the source…because the bottom line is that he is not adequately digesting his food and that can lead to very nasty toxins building up and they attack him before they attack the rest of the office…does this employer provide adequate health care coverage????

  2. the guy looks unhealthy, he should be on a strict diet. Stay away from milk, flour and sugar in all its forms.

    He probably eats hamburger helper, kfc, mcdonalds, ice cream, lots of pasta, little debbie cakes, funnel cakes, pies, cakes, hot dogs, ham, bacon, drinks a gallon of diet coke or coke daily and has a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast.

    Start eating copious amounts of vegetables, lean meat, fish, nuts, fresh fruit and use stivia, honey or agave for a sweetener and drink lots of tea; white, green and black.

    he has gas and is overweight for a reason, his diet sucks.

  3. What about the far more serious noxious flatulence emanting from Capitol Hill daily? A log of thoese incidents would fill libraries, and does.

  4. I am lactose intolerant, for pity’s sake….I use lactase and avoid the milk products I know overcome that helpful remedy. I have to wonder if this guy DID actually enjoy tormenting his co-workers, the eternal ‘farts are funny’ mental eight year old.

  5. Somebody ought to get him a lifetime supply of Gas-X.

    Maybe it is not milk. Cabbage, many other green vegetables…..and beans can cause the problem. Recall the rhyme we all learned in primary school?

    Beans, beans,
    Musical fruit.
    The more you eat,
    The more you poot.

  6. OTTERAY SCRIBE:

    yes but eating vegetables, if I remember correctly, leads to more gas but less smelly.

    his diet sucks, change the diet, change the farts.

    How objectionable is horesh!t?

  7. It’s a damn good thing I had an office in my home. Maybe that “dust mask” my secretary wore for 20 years wasn’t about dust? OS, My old man would make a peasant Italian dish comprised of olive oil, garlic, cabbage and cannellini beans; served w/ crusty Italian bread. You could power a fleet of taxis w/ the gas it produced. Damn good, though.

  8. Bron,
    All humor aside, extremely odorous flatulence could be the result of a serious medical condition. I am not a gastroenterologist, but have known a number of them in my lifetime, and it is one of the most useful of all medical specialties. There are several medical conditions which can cause this problem, and are not particularly related to what one eats. For one thing, it could be an early warning sign of something that could be very serious, or even life threatening.

    If he has been to an internist and nothing was found, maybe he needs a second opinion.

  9. I’m so glad I’m retired from there now! I remember a guy in my office that used hock loogies in a coke can all day long! Disgusting! I too had to ask his supervisor to speak to him. Thankfully, he did stop that behavior.

  10. JT, Did your coworker chew tobacco? If you watch Moneyball you see many of the coaches, scouts, etc. spitting into cans and cups because they’re tobacco chewers. Which brings me to this question, are smoke free workplaces allowing chewers?

  11. >> What do you think?

    I do not think all medical conditions necessarily get a free pass; if I have a brain tumor that causes me to randomly flip out and assault people, I would not be protected. It is reasonable to consider stinky flatulence an assault on the senses and a disruption of the workplace, just like sudden spontaneous screaming. I think random uncontrollable epileptic fits are a medical condition, but I also think they should disqualify people from being an ambulance driver or surgeon or fireman or police officer. I think people can be medically mute (e.g. due to throat cancer), but I think being medically mute is a good reason to deny them a job as a prosecuting attorney. I believe people can be congenitally deaf, but that is also a good reason to deny them a job as a nurse in the operating room, where verbal communication with coworkers is paramount, because people’s hands are occupied with surgery.

    I agree with laws prohibiting discrimination on disability, but I also agree that the disability cannot prevent the job from being done and cannot interfere with the ability of others to do their jobs. Accommodating a physical disability with ramps, wide aisles, or an appropriate desk does not plausibly interfere with the ability of others to accomplish their job, it does not make the workplace more difficult for coworkers.

  12. http://potomacteapartyreport.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/irs-incompetent-and-riddled-with-fraud-billions-wasted-employees-muzzled/

    IRS brain farts. Talk about an awful and unpleasant odor. Don’t bother keeping a log, it would be too voluminous. I’m not a big fan of the Tea Party, but I think they’ve got something with this.

    I had a case in Chicago that very clearly should have been classified as fraud, but the manager refused to allow that. The manager said the 100% stockholder of that corporation might have to go to jail. I said that’s right. I involved the fraud coordinator who then involved his manager because of my managers recalcitrance. The fraud coordinator manager wouldn’t get involved unless the territory manager got involved. I sent an email to the territory manager requesting her involvement, and she ignored the request.

    In Milwaukee there was a corporate officer return that showed over two million in stock sales. Also, the taxpayer spouse have a stationary store in Milwaukee that reported a $180,000 loss. The Milwaukee manager refused to let me audit the corporate officer’s Form 1040.

    You are supposed to concentrate on LUQ items (Large, Unusual, Questionable). My start date with the IRS was March 7, 2005 as a GS-13 Revenue Agent with the Large and Mid-Sized Business division. The Chicago manager told me I didn’t have enough experience. The Milwaukee manager told me I wasn’t a “seasoned” Revenue Agent. I guess the CPA designation and 18 years of private sector experience doesn’t qualify.

    The fact is, I was better at doing their job than most of the “veteran” employees. I think that was part of the problem.

  13. How many have been written up for body odor? There are many people who do not bath regularly, or use deodorant / antiperspirant. Then there are those that chew their nails, twirl there hair, smell like smoke, wear too much perfume/cologne, talk too much, sing, or I just don’t like the way they look. I say they must all change to accommodate me…Signed, A Selfish and Less Compassionate Society.

  14. Nick, no he did not chew tobacco – it usually happened when he had a cold or sinus issues. Interesting question about smokeless tobacco though. Although I never saw anyone chewing it in the office.
    Beverelliee – I second your motion :)

  15. The fact is, I was better at doing their job than most of the “veteran” employees. I think that was part of the problem.~ Matt Johnson
    —————————
    that is very often a very threatening thing…and in these times it may be the new (or not….) dysfunctional norm…

  16. One thing that can be said for certain, having a management team that allocates resources to count employee farts and a coworker unleashing the daily methane apocalypse, it must be a dreadful place to work.

  17. This is an amazing story. The flatulence issue could be solved by moving him into his own cubicle or his own office. There are also air cleaners that could be used to reduce the negative impact of his gas issues. That being said, I just can’t imagine having to keep a record of how many times an employee passed gas. How do they know it is all coming from this guy if they have close quarters?? :)

  18. Could not the federal government devise a way to capture human gas, store it, and burn it as heating fuel in the cold months? The federal government was able to put a man on the moon without going to Boeing or outside contractors. And, if we put a man on the moon why cant the federal government drill for oil and gas on federal lands and not give it away to gas and oil companies like Exxon so that they can gouge us. We need a new political party to promote these policies. Fartocratic Party. It could be comprise of old farts and young farts alike. The Party Motto: One small fart for man, one giant fart for mankind.

  19. While this story has a humorous taint, some of these flatulent stories are anything but funny. If you think firing someone for gas is extreme, I’m sure you’ll be perfectly appalled by Austin Davis beating his kids for farting in the car.

    You read that right.

    Follow the link.

  20. rafflaw does bring up a good point. There are ionizers that cannabis growers use to neutralize the very pungent aroma of growing plants. They don’t work if you have 100 plants, but if you have a few it is quite effective. Should be able to handle Franky Fart

  21. Is it the volume or the odor or both which offend?

    If odor, then the guy is definitely afflicted with the wrong kind of colon bacteria. Can often occur after too much antibiotics or cures of them.
    Can be easily remedied with a docs help.

    Junk food? Maybe. Never lived off it.

  22. Missouri Mule,

    We do that in Stockholm. “We” are not directly connected to the collection.
    But our feces is used to produce gas which drives some of the busses here.
    Our garbage warms our apartments, and the rest heat warms our water for baths.

    Try it. Proven over 20 years.

  23. OS,

    Are you encouraging us to keep tight a55holes. If we exude bad gas we have a possibly terrible disease. At least tell us hypochrondriacs what we have to fear.

    If cancer does smell, then dogs could be trained to detect it—–which has been done cancer of one type. It involved patient urine and dogs who could mark them quickly even if other tests were negative.

  24. One of the first things that comes to mind right off the top of my head is pathologically high levels of acid and/or helicobacter pylori. Also, there are some parasitic infections that can cause malodorous gas. Conditions that can be precursors to a perforated ulcer. Peritonitis is an ugly way to die.

  25. TMI here but before they came up with lactase chews I thought maybe my problem with milk, etc was the reason the guy in the next apartment moved. (:
    The guy, or person, who developed the lactase meds, in my opinion, deserves a nobel prize. Now I can eat ice cream, cheese, etc, yay! but I am also mad at that person cause now I can eat ice cream, cheese, etc and gained about 30 pounds.

  26. Well, this was, I believe, previously posted due to it showed child abuse due to their flatulence.

    Here are the “mug” shots of parents who deserve whatever they get. The problem is how to help the kids then. Some incredible faces, and some on pretty women, not always the smartest either. There are 32 shots with crime descriptions. Don’t know which is most appalling, faces or abuses.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/austin-davis-beat-kids-passing-gas_n_2371074.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news#slide=more228086

    Well, Scientific American had an article which partially restored the reputation of H. Pylori as being necessary for both stomach and colon function.
    It regulates production of gherin (sp) which appeases appetite. It also regulates acid production in the stomach. In the colon, it seems to be tied to moderating what would otherwise be an overproduction of aggressive immune cells which attack the colon. My recalled knowledge is therewith fully exhausted.

    Very few children have H. pylori anymore (8%?) due to frequent antibiotic cures for otit. (inner ear inflammation), a recurring childhood problem.
    It is said that DO’s can do it without meds. Read Dr. Weil, he mentioned it in one of his books. Not saying that I recommend Weil however.

  27. Beverliiie, you speak like a hater, i understand but i know how its hard for them, do you want them to suicide, i know they are who dont take a bath, but there are who are suffering inside cause nobody can’t understand only the doctor, even the doctor might not understand, i use to speak like you but noww i know, they have all the competencies to speak like you, to do more than you but all they eat comes out and they are hiding in their room crying every day, now they read that news they might think that they can’t even work and some young will stop study, maybe it is begun with constipation and its becomes like that, peace to their bodies, i hope healthy for all of us, when fool take pilule it calms out but when they take it adds the stomach trouble hoo lord is there anybody who can understand…. But if we try to support they will not stress a lot and it will restablish their body cause when they are at a confortably place it never happens..

  28. I almost never drop comments, but i did some searching and wound up here Federal Employee Disciplined After Gas Log Details Excessive Workplace
    Flatulence | JONATHAN TURLEY. And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright.

    Could it be simply me or does it seem like some of these responses appear like coming from brain
    dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online sites, I’d like
    to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you list of every one of
    all your community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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