(The Smoking Gun, 12/21/2012)
A federal employee was formally reprimanded this month for excessive workplace flatulence, a sanction that was delivered to him in a five-page letter that actually included a log of representative dates and times when he was recorded “releasing the awful and unpleasant odor” in his Baltimore office.
In a December 10 letter accusing him of “conduct unbecoming a federal officer,” the Social Security Administration employee was informed that his “uncontrollable flatulence” had created an “intolerable” and “hostile” environment for coworkers, several of whom have lodged complaints with supervisors.
The worker, a 38-year-old Maryland resident, reportedly provided evidence that he suffered from “some medical conditions” that, at times, caused him to be unable to work full days. But a SSA manager noted in the reprimand letter that, “nothing that you have submitted has indicated that you would have uncontrollable flatulence. It is my belief that you can control this condition.”
A redacted copy of the letter was recently circulated among officers of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents the SSA worker. Contacted today at his office, the employee said, “I can’t talk to you about this, I’m sorry.” The employee is being represented in connection with the reprimand by a lawyer for his union, AFGE Local 1923. Cynthia Ennis, president of the Baltimore-based local, did not respond to e-mail and phone messages about the matter.
The SSA worker is pictured with his wife in the above photo, which apparently was taken at an amusement park (yes, he is standing at the left shoulder of someone dressed as Pepe Le Pew). The employee is a claims authorizer at the SSA center that handles disability cases for the entire country.
According to the letter of reprimand–which is the least severe administrative sanction that can be levied against a federal worker–the man was first spoken to about his flatulence during a May 18 “performance discussion” with his supervisor. He was informed that fellow employees had complained about his flatulence, and that it was “the reason none of them were willing to assist you with your work.” The supervisor referred the employee to a SSA unit for “assistance with what could have been a medical problem that was affecting everyone in the module.”
Two months later, on July 17, a second SSA manager spoke with the man “in regards of your releasing of bodily gas in the module during work hours.” The manager asked the employee if he could “make it to the restroom before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor.” She also recounted what appeared to be a prior conversation during which the worker suggested that he would “turn your fan on when it happens.” The manager recalled advising him that, “turning on the fan would cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module.”
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