If an employee with a fragrance sensitivity requests a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, the employer should seek to accommodate the employee, if possible, even if it means making adjustments to the workplace. Fragrance sensitivity can be mild or more severe, and can lead to respiratory problems or migraines. It’s possible that the employee may have legal protections under ADA depending on the severity of the condition. Whether or not the employee’s sensitivity meets the requirements to be considered a disability under the ADA, it’s best for the employer to at least consider the employee’s request.
The employer should discuss a possible accommodation with the employee. Common accommodation options include asking nearby co-workers to avoid wearing any fragrances, adopting a fragrance-free workplace policy, or using unscented cleaning products. Employers often face the issue of co-workers refusing to comply with fragrance-related policies, especially when fragrances are in more health and beauty products than simply colognes and perfumes. It may be helpful for an employer to speak with co-workers to gain input and buy-in for more practical solutions when making any significant changes to policy. Read more.