Fed Agency Retracts Reprimand to Flatulent Worker

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  • 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    Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle said Friday in a two-sentence email that the reprimand was rescinded a week after it was issued “when senior management became aware of the reprimand” and that the agency, which has its headquarters in a suburb outside of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.

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