Allergic To Fragrance But She Brings Her Dog?

Question:

Wwhere I work an employee states she needs it to be fragrance free but yet she brings her dog to work.

Signed,

Suspicious


Answer:

Dear Suspicious:

Apparently you wonder how someone could have a fragrance allergy but still have a dog nearby. It’s quite possible, since fragrances that cause allergic responses are often chemical or plant based (as with flowers.) Usually the allergic reaction to pets is from a reaction to their dander (hair and skin flakes) and not to their overall fragrance–though that may be noticeable, and offensive to some people, although they are not allergic to it.

I would imagine, if the employee brings a dog to work, it is an assisting dog, used for sight, hearing or assistance in some other way–or perhaps it is being trained for that purpose. Likely there will be nothing you can do about that. But, you will need to comply with the ban on fragrances. Fragrance-free is actually not possible of course, since almost everything in a workplace has a fragrance. But, many people have strong reactions to strong fragrances, so the best solution is to work to eliminate as many of them as possible. If you look at our archives you’ll see we get many letters complaining about the over-use of perfume, fragranced candles, strong hand lotions, even highly fragranced deodorant. The view generally is held that no one HAS to wear a fragrance or have fragranced items at work. They can use it all they want at home, just not at work. But someone who is allergic to fragrances should not be made to suffer because someone wants the right to use fragrances in any setting.

If the dog is bothersome because of an odor, or if someone is allergic to the dog for some reason, that is usually handled by moving the work area of the person who is bothered.

This issue of fragrances is a relatively small one and not worth drawing a line in the dirt over at work, because you won’t win the fight. As with similar situations, the easiest thing to do is focus on work and put the frustration of this behind you.

Best wishes.

Tina Lewis Rowe