U.K. Woman Loses Firing Appeal in Office Flatulence Case

February 21, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A U.K. woman fired from her job at a university after extended illnesses who claims her colleagues created a hostile work environment by mocking her chronic flatulence problem has lost her appeal before an employment tribunal.

A news report in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, which said a court order prohibited it from publishing the woman’s name, said she complained of being chronically mocked and the butt of co-workers jokes at the Leeds Metropolitan University.

The story said the woman suffered from severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a gastrointestinal ailment – which she claimed generated the flatulence. The woman’s lawyers claimed at the tribunal hearing that she was teased about a creating a “terrible smell” and that a colleague mocked her saying: “She opens the windows because she is stinking the place out.”

In another alleged incident, her line manager made an “unhumorous bowel joke” and another colleague made “exaggerated sniffing noises” in earshot of her, according to the newspaper.

The woman initially complained about being harassed but disciplinary proceedings were started against her because of her increased sickness absences and concerns about the quality of her work, according to the news report. She was fired in 2006.

The tribunal was told that at one point the woman was off sick for an average of four days every month, but she had failed to register with a local doctor and did not produce the required sick notes.