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redallen32
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10 Apr 2024, 4:42 pm

So my work recently installed air fresheners all around my work. The smell is literally making me sick. I've talked to my boss about it to see if we could remove them because I'm sensitive around smells. Instead of having an actual discussion about it with me, her response was that she is "sensitive" to smells too and she's fine. So I know getting work to get rid of the air fresheners isn't an option (she's the main manager and what she says goes). My question is - are there things I can do to help me manage the smell? I've tried wearing a mask and chewing mint gum (that's what Google told me to try) but it's not working anymore. With everything else going on in my life, I can feel myself very close to a breakdown but I can't afford to take any time off. Is there anything I can do or am I just on my way to a complete burnout and breakdown?



ToughDiamond
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11 Apr 2024, 12:26 pm

I have no solution to offer, only sympathy. If they'd done that in my workplace I'd have been very upset. It's a rotten thing to happen and I wish employers wouldn't be so top-down and capricious with decisions that could give some employees an awful lot of misery.

I suppose you could ask the boss again, pointing out that different people are sensitive to different things and that your plight is genuine. And there may be a slight chance that the airflow in the building is such that there's somewhere you could move to where the stink is less? Is there anybody else working there who also hates it? Maybe if enough people complained, the boss might reconsider.

If you can get access to safety information about the contents of those "fresheners," then if they're apparently safe you might feel a bit better about them, and if they're not safe, you might have a stronger hand, though employees often have to be careful about rocking the boat and making the management feel threatened, especially if there's no fair dismissal laws where you are and you're not in a strong trade union. Sorry I can't think of any better advice.



redallen32
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11 Apr 2024, 1:48 pm

There are other spots in the building where the smell isn't as strong, but unfortunately, I'm the front desk receptionist so I can't be moved to a different spot. There's one other guy whose office is right next to the air freshener and he made a comment, but he usually works from home so it wasn't a big deal for him. I tried explaining how sensitive I am to smells to my boss, but she just kind of shrugged me off because she said she has a strong sense of smell too. She didn't understand a strong sense of smell can be very different than being sensitive to smells. But because it's a "good" smell, she doesn't care. She's definitely been very cold to me since I said something about it though so it's kind of awkward in the office now.

I don't know why this country is so scared of unions, it would make our lives so much easier!

Thanks for responding. I know there's not much I can do but I really appreciate your comment :)



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11 Apr 2024, 2:22 pm

^
That's a pity. At work my colleagues often moaned about the way the management jerked them around, but they were very reluctant to even ask for anything to be done about it. Some were scared of being victimised for it, and some appeared to feel it was somehow immoral to fight the management. But two people separately took them to court - one for a health and safety breach, the other for constructive dismissal - and won, but it seemed I was the only one who approved of what they'd done.

In the UK, employee militancy has become much less popular over the decades, and so has union power. I suppose people don't like to admit they're not strong, so they tell themselves it's just that it's wrong to bite the hand that feeds them. And there might be something in the idea that some unions had too much power in the 1960s, and had become too corrupt and self-interested. I gather there's never even been any laws on unfair dismissal in the USA. I don't know how they stand it. Anyway, enough politics from me.



IsabellaLinton
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11 Apr 2024, 5:29 pm

If you're in USA with a formal diagnosis of ASD, and depending on your job, you could request "Reasonable Accommodation" to have an office with a closing door and have an air purifier in your office.

I'm extremely sensitive to scent too. I can be ill and non-functional for days because of air fresheners, among other things. When I used to work I got an air purifier and had it running all the time in my closed-door office because of the everyday workplace smells, perfumes, shampoos, dryer sheets, etc. Chemical scents weren't being pumped in, thank goodness, but if they were and I couldn't have been accommodated I wouldn't have been able to tolerate it.

Like TD said, if you're in a union that could help too.

I'm sorry your boss is so obtuse at considering your health needs. I'm loathe to understand why any company would want to pollute the air with chemical scent on purpose. Usually there's some sort of Health and Safety policy workplaces need to follow.


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redallen32
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12 Apr 2024, 12:57 pm

I was just written up at work for "communication issues" because I didn't go to my boss and I guess other employees were asking her why I had tissues and masks on my face. Ummm... I did go to you and you completely shrugged me off. I'm so confused. And a little pissed off.

She ended the "meeting" with "I hope if something like this happens again, you'll come talk to me instead." If she thinks I'm ever going to go to her again about anything, she's delusional.



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12 Apr 2024, 1:37 pm

Oh dear. It must be horrible to be told you didn't approach her when you did. Sounds like you need an advocate to clear this mess up. Is there any way of having another round of discussion with them on this "write-up," or do they see it as a closed case? Clearly, it's not logically closed at all because it's been written up with at least one big error.

I had an advantage in my workplace - the head of department was supposed to be a scientist, so there tended to be a presumption that things had to make sense, and as long as people argued benignly, he rather had to respect their logic. But the overarching managers had no such constraint.



redallen32
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12 Apr 2024, 3:10 pm

Unfortunately it's pretty set in stone. If her boss ever comes in and asks me my side of the story, I'll make it clear to him that I did approach her, she just ignored me. There was an incident back in October that really made it clear to me that she just sees me as her subordinate that she just gets to boss around and there's not much I can really do about it because I desperately need this job. The thing that really sucks is I was offered a different job about a month ago, but a someone in a different department at this current job approached me with (maybe) a different opportunity working for him. So I turned down the job offer, but then the news about the new opportunity has gone pretty silent so I'm not sure if it's even an option anymore.

It's really baffling to me that some managers (my current one included) treat their employees like crap and then wonder why there are so many open positions in their department.

Thank you for responding to me. I should really look into seeing if I qualify (and can afford) an advocate, because with the way things are going in this job, I feel like I could really use one soon.



JamesW
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12 Apr 2024, 3:24 pm

redallen32 wrote:
I was just written up at work for "communication issues" because I didn't go to my boss and I guess other employees were asking her why I had tissues and masks on my face. Ummm... I did go to you and you completely shrugged me off. I'm so confused. And a little pissed off.

She ended the "meeting" with "I hope if something like this happens again, you'll come talk to me instead." If she thinks I'm ever going to go to her again about anything, she's delusional.


She is a classic workplace bully.

I don't know your circumstances, so it isn't my business to simply say 'find another job'. Just knowing that it is a day at a time, and that you won't be stuck there under her forever, may help make it easier.


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redallen32
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12 Apr 2024, 3:33 pm

Agreed, and I don't think she's just a bully at work, I think it's pretty common for her in her daily life as well.

Yeah, if I wasn't so desperate for money, I would definitely quit. But, instead, I will be actively looking for a new one!