WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal government agency did more than wrinkle its nose at an employee’s flatulence problem, issuing an official reprimand after months of malodors. But the agency said Friday that it has since retracted the rebuke.
The reprimand letter, which runs four pages and is dated Dec. 10, charges the Social Security Administration employee with “conduct unbecoming a federal employee” and “creating a hostile work environment” because of the repeated gas passing.
It says coworkers didn’t want to work with the person because of the problem, which the employee seems to have attributed to lactose intolerance. The letter also contains a chart documenting 60 instances of flatulence, nine on one day in September.
The letter was originally posted on The Smoking Gun website with names blacked out.
Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle said Friday in a two-sentence email that the reprimand was rescinded a week after it was issued “when senior management became aware of the reprimand” and that the agency, which has its headquarters in a suburb outside of Baltimore, could not comment further because of “privacy concerns.” He declined to say the employee’s gender or where the person worked.
According to the letter, at least three people tried to get to the bottom of the smelly situation with the employee beginning in May, when the employee’s supervisor brought up the topic during a performance discussion.
The author of the reprimand letter, a manager, confronted the employee in July, noting several coworkers had complained and asking if “you could make it to the rest room before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor.” The employee apparently offered to try not to pass gas and to turn on a fan when it happened, but the letter writer says that solution wasn’t satisfactory.
“I explained to you that turning on the fan would cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module,” the letter writer chastises.
Later, after a conversation with a deputy division director, the employee blamed the problem on lactose intolerance and offered to purchase Gas-X. The deputy division director also asked that the employee investigate a medical explanation.
“He asked that you check with your doctor to see if there are other options to help you address your flatulence and that you could not pass gas indefinitely and continue to disrupt the work place,” the letter says.
The employee submitted information about medical conditions but nothing indicating “that you would have uncontrollable flatulence,” according to the letter.
“It is my belief that you can control this condition,” the letter writer says.
The employee’s flatulent episodes were then documented by date and time over a three-month period beginning in September. The letter does not explain how the record was made.
Follow Jessica Gresko at
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl