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The scent of perfume and cologne can be too much to bear for some office workers. (Christine Glade/iStockphoto)
The scent of perfume and cologne can be too much to bear for some office workers. (Christine Glade/iStockphoto)

'Scent Sensitive'

As public servants face cuts, one raises a stink about office aroma Add to ...

Working in the public service stinks, apparently.

A Citizenship and Immigration employee has missed hundreds of hours of work over nearly a decade, claiming the smell of cologne and perfume at the office is so strong he just can't take it.

At a time when public servants are fearing they may be next to be told their jobs have been eliminated via government-wide spending cuts, temporary resident visa processor Terrence Juba has kept his for years despite calling in sick as much as possible.

"Mr. Juba said that he has been absent from work for hundreds of hours," states a Public Service Labour Relations Board report released Tuesday and written by adjudicator Paul Love. "He explored the possibility of working from home. Suggestions were made that he quit his job. He requested and was provided an air purifier."

Reports from the Labour Relations Board often provide a window into the small battles waged inside the public service, where numerous avenues are available for federal employees to file grievances about their work conditions.

One 2006 email listed in the report indicated that Mr. Juba's contract allowed him 176.5 hours of sick leave. Mr. Juba was asking to have his used sick days returned because his office did not act fast enough to accommodate his condition.

The report states that Mr. Juba's boss, Paul Snow, took the condition seriously, going so far as to seek help from something described as "JOSH," the "Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committee."

The manager then arranged to have an expert on scents come in to teach Mr. Juba's work colleagues at the Vegreville, Alta., Case Processing Centre about the importance of not being overly fragrant.

"The training was delivered by a person from outside the Centre to avoid stigmatizing those who were scent sensitive and to demonstrate that it was a serious issue," according to the report.

A sign was also put up in the office that read: "Scent sensitive zone."

Ultimately, the adjudicator dismissed Mr. Juba's request.

And that wasn't the first time the public servant used the various grievance options available to workers inside government.

In 2002 Mr. Juba made a claim for compensation with the Workers' Compensation Board, on the grounds that he had experienced headaches, a runny nose and occasional nosebleeds from being around co-workers wearing perfume.

That claim was also dismissed.

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