My coworker

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tinamarie1, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    I have only been at this job 2 months now, and the girl that sits across from me has some rather unusual habits. They are getting more extreme though and another coworker today brought it to my attention that she thinks she has a compulsive disorder.
    The latest thing is that EVERY time she gets up out of her seat, she sprays this body spray 4 times on herself. Its like a vanilla/musky smell and it makes me gag. Today she could not sit in her seat, so you can imagine that by the 10th time she sprayed, I was about to have a full on fit. She is a marketing person so she is very bubbly, outgoing and loud. Also if there is music on her computer (don't get me started), she has to tap her hands on her desk. I know that may not be compulsive, but I blurted out the other day "ok, you HAVE to stop that". She looked like she was hurt and said quietly "im sorry". Along with all of these, she also curses really bad. Oh and last week, she decided that it was better for HER to work with the lights off in our section of the building. We have windows, but still...I type in orders all day long and have to actually read sheets of paper in front of me. She does all of her work on the computer. She told me that I need to go buy a desk lamp and have the company reimburse me. ??? I do not want to get on her bad side, because she bad mouths so many people all the way from the janitors in our building to the management staff. We (the other 4 people that sit near me) all agreed today that something has to happen, esp. about the body spray. I just don't know how to handle it.
  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    I think I would go to your manager and ask for a desk lamp. Just say that the lighting isn't bright enough for you to do your best work. I would bring in my own fan and aim it at the offending aromas. I'm surprised that the company would turn the lights off unless that woman is doing one heck of a job at marketing. Do you need to hear what's going on in your office or could you wear a pair of earphones? It's sad that you have to figure out ways to deal with this woman, but I'm assuming she would have more clout than you since you have only been there two months. If you like the job I would try to find workarounds so that you don't end up looking like the complainer....
  3. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    If you go to the manager, do it as a group, or send a spokesperson other than yourself. As the new person, you may look like just a complainer.

    About the perfume, perhaps if you phrase it to your manager that there are people in the office AND possible clients that have allergies to perfume (my mom is allergic, my sis & I are sensitive and get headaches from perfumes), would it be possible to make the office fragrance free (other than shampoos, and whatnot). If you stress that clients may be put off by it, manager may be more likely to ban perfumes in the office. It's either that, or when she's away from her desk someone slip a piece of paper on her desk with these websites listed and she may get the hint. :sheepish:
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911


    OKAY - I'm laughing here at myself with my little pseudo-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies - and thinking I would have killed her by now.

    As far as working with the lights out - that is against OSHA regulations - adequate lighting must be provided at all times for workers. If someone should trip with those lights out - it's SUE city. She wouldn't be held liable - the office would.

    As far as the tapping and humming and such - I think you've handled that.

    As far as the perfume - I would get together with the others that are offended by it - the next time she sprays - all of you just face her and say - WE NEED TO TALK - and don't be ugly - just confront her.

    There are tactful ways to have her stop doing what she is doing - and as far as a light - Ask her which office supply company DELIVERS - you should NOT have to take YOUR time to go get a lamp! OR your gas. That's just poopy.

    I like to have a lamp in my office - it' makes it homier - but I have a little crystal lamp and matching shade coordinated with the signed artists prints on my wall -

    ANNOYING OFFICE HABITS? Try working with 4 men who chew and spit - I finally brought a pop box bottom to cover my trash can - makes me gag - and they leave their spit cups all over .....And they ALWAYS ALWAYS USE my bathroom. It's cleaner - ARGH - yeah it is because I clean it! Now I don't clean it. I bought lysol wipes, and sani covers for the seat -
    (AND THEY STARTED USING THEM) so I hid them.

    Then I brought in some Bath and Body works hand soap - and left the Dial - for them......nope - all those big burly men used MY $5.00 a bottle soap - and I'm low man on the totem pole here in pay -

    So no more "happy" soap, no more spitting in my trash can and no more free maid service - I called a service - they want $200 a month but do you think anyone would COMP ME for the work I've done for the last year keeping this stye clean? Nope -but will give them $200 - Soon I am going to sign the contract - it's just a matter of principal

    But - I finally won the war on NO SMOKING IN THE WAREHOUSE = the bosses newborn and child come in and I said I could smell it in the office was he sure he wanted that around THEM? ANd BAM>>>>>no smoking signs everywhere.

    I LOVE WORKING WITH MEN......argh.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I would have a COW!! Just over the body spray alone. I am SOOO allergic - I actually get breathing problems, not to mention migraines. I had to leave a seminar at the restaurant show because some woman had just used WAY too much perfume and sat right in front of me. I was choking and gagging because the nasty stink. I later saw people almost RUNNING from her booth at the restaurant show. They would make a WIDE path around her.

    The other things would be a problem also. Maybe, when she is away from the desk you can just take the spray out of her desk so she can't use it. You need to make the manager aware that this is a problem and that it will drive customers away. If I went to meet a marketing person who had used scent this unwisely, I would certainly not buy any product she marketed.

    I would see if someone or a group of people woudl go to the manager with the problems about the lighting and scent and tapping. The lighting is dangerous. The company is WIDE OPEN for a lawsuit. Not just for safety because the lighting. They are open to charges for hostile work environment because the perfume and tapping and lights. If ANYONE working there has asthma, or clients do, this woman is risking their health.

    I am sorry you have to endure this. Also ask the manager to order the desk lamp - I am sure he will LOVE spending $$ to buy a lamp for you when the company already pays for lighting. Make SURE he knows it is because she has said the lights need to be turned off all the time.


  6. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Everytime she sprays that vanilla fog -

    Sit at your desk, grab your throat with both hands, pretend to gag, roll off your chair onto the floor, make your body jerk in violent fits, and exhaust yourself while whispering in a hoarse voice - more mist....

    In gERMAN the word (pronounced meescht) means - kaka....
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    The smell would drive me nuts. (I can't stand cologne or perfume.)

    You might try going to your supervisor and politely saying...I don't want to complain or cause waves, but this is what is happening. Ask to remain anonamous. It's not your job to confront an employee. That is why the boss gets the big bucks.

  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I think Abbey's suggestion is a good one. To make sure that you don't come across as a "complainer" I would go in armed with one or two ideas about how to resolve the situation. That way the supervisor has less work to do to come up with a solution, and can just implement the one that works best.

    So...for example, is there another desk far away from perfume-girl to which you could be reassigned (possibly somewhere that has better lighting, just as an added bonus?) might want to suggest a fragrance-free policy to avoid any health and safety concerns.

    An interesting aside...
    Years ago in Toronto there was a lawsuit that was making all the papers. A woman was fired from her job for wearing very strong, stinky perfume that was offensive to co-workers and customers of the business. She sued for wrongful dismissal, but lost because the judge agreed that her colleagues and customers should not be subject to unpleasant or noxious odours. And get this...she worked at the PERFUME counter of a department store. Can you imagine how stinky her perfume must have been???

    Hope it all works out,
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    The perfume would kill me. Star I wouldn't have to pretend to gag and choke. lmao

    I've always been extremely sensitive to perfumes.

    I like Abbey's idea.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hey - you can go to the boss ALL YOU WANT -

    But if you want immediate action without reprisal? FALL ON THE FLOOR - roll around, wheeze, wheeze, kick and then let your tongue hang out of the side of your mouth, while holding on to your throat.

    I'm all about cutting out the middle man.

  11. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    I'm sure if all of you are willing to go to the manager, he/she will have to do something.

    Personally, next time she gets up to go to the bathroom or something, take that perfume out and throw it out of the window! That'll really set her off.
  12. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    Ok...heres the latest...I went to Human Resources this morning before my shift started. I told the HR director about all the craziness. I said BUT the perfume is at the top of my list. It gives me a headache, and i can actually taste it in my mouth (the perfume). this was at 9am. The girl sprayed and sprayed and sprayed all day today.
    I have a tremendous headache now and my throat feels like its burning. I go back to the HR lady after I clocked out and said, I just want you to know there was alot of spraying going on still today. She said she had not had time to "come up with a plan" she was thinking of sending a company wide email about people wearing perfume.
    But I am telling you this girl is very strong willed and the type to think this shouldn't apply to her.
    I think tomorrow when the spraying starts, I will tell my supervisor that I feel sick and need to go home, and then just stop by HR and let them know too.
    My supervisor sits in the cubicle next to me, she smells the spray and has made comments to me after the girl walks off like "why is she doing that??" My supervisor is not this girls supervisor though, so she's not really in a place to say something.
    Also, about moving to another area, our building is packed. They just hired 12 new people and have no where to put them. We are waiting on the 2nd floor to open up. But I know that won't be an option for me. I have to sit with my department.
  13. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Wow. What a mess.

    I wouldn't be surprised if HR is trying to find a politically correct way to deliver the message. HR departments are cognizant of all the rules and regs, and have to be very careful about what they say to employees if they don't want to be on the receiving end of the dreaded lawsuit.

    If your supervisor is bothered by the perfume etc. too, is she in a position to speak to the other woman's supervisor? Then it's a boss-to-boss conversation, and it might get resolved.

    With regard to asking to be moved, I was just using that as an example. But if you come up with a list of "brainstorming" ideas to present to your supervisor (or to HR) then they can tell you what's feasible and within the rules, and what won't work.

    It's one of those old saws of the workplace. If you bring a problem to your boss then you're bringing her more work to do. If you bring a problem AND a solution or two to your boss, then not only are you not bringing her any extra work, but you're also showing your initiative and all that good stuff.

    I'm sorry that perfume-girl's insensitivity is causing your health to suffer. There really should be an organizational policy, but in the meantime...maybe you should try Star's idea. At least it would get the point across (Just Kidding!)

  14. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    Ok, so today I go into work and STILL nothing has been said to this girl obviously, because she is spraying like no tomorrow. I finally went to my supervisor and asked her to come out into the hallway. I told her that I had filed a formal complaint with HR and nothing is being done about it and for the last 2 days I have gone home with- a headache and my throat burning. I told her I can't handle it anymore, I am leaving early and going home. She was in shock. I said, you know this bothers everyone in our department, right, because we complain about it constantly. She said that she never knew it was THAT bad. I said, well it is. I gathered my belongings and she looked really upset. She took the remainder of my work off my desk and said, "i guess i will finish your work for you". I said, ok thanks. and walked out the door. Maybe now they will do something? Or fire me for leaving?
  15. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Usually, (not always) a HR department has very specific ways to deal with any issue. They don't seem to be responding.

    Where you take this, I don't know. It could be OSHA, paid unemployment...I'm not a scholar in this area. But, is sure seems that you've made the proper attempts to have a reasonable work environment and they've been ignored.

  16. Star*

    Star* call 911

    -okay all kidding aside.....

    I realize you want to do the right thing here with Smelly. And as a conflict resolutions manager if you are not willing to have everyone get together sometimes you just have to take a leap.

    The next time she sprays - I would say "What is that scent?"
    She would more than likely comment - "Vanilla musk ox butt"
    And YOU SAY "May I see the bottle?"
    She would more than likely hand it over to you -
    And YOU SAY "Uh huh - I thought so - this has Oris root in it - I went home sick yesterday but I've been getting the worst migraine headaches every day (then frown like you are sincere) and say
    "I know you like it, but could you stop using it for a week so I can see if that is what is causing my headaches?"

    If she says NO - Then tell her that you'll have to take it up with the manager, that you thought you could just keep it between the two of you - but this is a potential health crisis for you - state no one likes headaches every day.

    If she says Yes - in a week - Tell her that you are not having the headaches any longer - thank her for not using - and problem should be solved.

    If she starts again - SOMEONE ELSE - go to her and say "I'm thinking your perfume is causing my headaches."

    and while they go to her YOU grab your throat and roll around on the ground gagging, then play dead with your tongue hanging out of the side of your mouth, and have a co-worker pretend to revive you with a fan and some cold water.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think that this could be a very bad problem for the company. IF they try something lame like punishing you for taking time off, or even anything more drastic, you have some legal resources. I know when this came up with one of husband's former coworkers, she sued the company because another coworkers body spray made her ill and the company did nothing to stop it.

    She was physically endangered (headaches, asthma for the first time in her life, and huge allergy problems) AND it created a hostile work environment.

    It might be a good idea to call OSHA and ask what options are open, just so YOU know. Don't tell anyone you called, let the HR dept handle things, but don't let up on it.

    Chances are your supervisor will say something to her supervisor.

    I hope this gets better. I know it is miserable for you.