update from the reader with the farting, burping coworker

Remember the reader who couldn’t get away from her aggressively flatulent office-mate? Here’s her update:

Unfortunately, I have no good news to report. This is, without contest, the most unbelievable thing that has ever happened to me.

First, let me state in response to to many of the comments: I worked in a steel mill, and I now work in a natural gas plant. I’m pretty used to being around men, and I’m very used to guys farting and burping around me. It happens. This was just beyond normal. And as for counting the farts, it was actually done the the suggestion of my boss. He couldn’t believe it was really happening that often, and asked me to keep count for a few days.

I spoke with my manager about this, and (as many of your readers predicted) he suggested I talk to the rude office mate. I tried taking the subtle route again and put several air fresheners in the office. No luck. I tried spraying Febreeze after every fart. No luck. I tried leaving the office door open to keep the air moving, and he would close it. I finally broke down after a particularly loud and foul-smelling fart and asked if he could please leave the room or at least warn me so I could leave. His response: “I don’t have to warn you before I sneeze, so why should I have to warn you before I fart? It’s just a natural bodily function and you should learn to be less sensitive about it.” I tried explaining that it was a very small room with very limited air circulation and that the constant noises and smells were very distracting. He just shrugged, and said, “Deal with it.”

I went back to my manager and practically begged to relocate to a different office. There were no other open offices available, so I was told no and referred to HR. They told me I was being overly sensitive and that I need to toughen up and deal with it. (Side note: There are VERY few women employed with this company, a steel mill, and most of the men there think women have no place in the workplace other than making coffee.) I asked HR to work from home a few days a week, and that was denied as well. It actually got so bad that I lost 10 lbs from becoming physically ill from the smells. I took a doctor’s note to HR saying that this situation was literally making me sick and I need to be relocated. HR suggested Febreeze.

After 4 months of this with no relief, I finally left the company (23 lbs lighter) and found another job. I never thought I would have to leave a job because of a farting coworker. I know the guy that is now sharing an office with Sir Farts Alot, and he has no problems at all. When the new office mate asked him about me leaving because of his bodily functions (by the time I left, everyone at the company knew what was going on), the jerk laughed and said he was doing it intentionally!!! He didn’t want to share an office “with a girl who has no business in this industry,” so he had changed his diet and was eating foods that would cause the gas to try and get me to leave!

{ 129 comments… read them below }

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Wow. It looks like the employee was given plenty of chances to make it right. I feel sorry for the manager.

  1. Lisa*

    Holy hell. WHAAAAT? How does someone just decide to use farting to drive a coworker out? I hope that guy comes back as Depends in his next life!

      1. Anonymous*

        When the average American, myself included, has a couple of extra pounds than they should, it’s hardly a bias to be checked. I agree it’s awful in a situation like this, but I agree with the ‘look at the silver lining’ aspect of it.

        1. Hari*

          THIS. Although I think its hardly worth having to deal with smelly farts. I would practically endure almost anything else to loose 23lbs.

        2. Kerry*

          Who’s to say the OP is one of those ‘average’ Americans – or isn’t struggling with an eating disorder? 23 pounds is a lot to lose, especially when it’s in an unhealthy way. She was ill. By definition her weight loss was not healthy. “Congratulations, your being sick means you now conform more to the beauty ideal, probably!” is a really gross thing to say.

        3. KellyK*

          But it’s not a silver lining for everyone. The assumption that weight loss is always a good thing is really hard on people who lose weight for unpleasant reasons (chemo, stomach problems, etc.) because it reinforces the idea that being thin(ner) is more important than anything else, including how you feel. And it’s one more thing that makes recovery from an eating disorder harder. (Not that the OP has one, but smart money says someone reading this does.)

          1. Lisa*

            Let’s assume this woman was 115 lbs to begin with and 5 ft 5 inches. That means she is now 97 lbs with a very unhealthy BMI of 16.1 when normal starts at 18.5.

          2. Ellie H.*

            I don’t know – I don’t have 23 pounds to lose, and also I used to have an eating disorder, but I too was mildly amused/intrigued by this. I’d be sick and unhappy if I lost that much weight by accident but I can see that it’s something a lot of people could relate to.

            1. KellyK*

              Sure, a lot of people would see it as a silver lining. It’s just that assuming that it *is* one is kind of a crappy thing to say, if that makes sense. Like, it’s one thing for the person it happens to to say, “hey, at least I lost that weight I wanted to lose,” and a totally different thing for someone else to say, “at least you lost weight.”

              1. Lynne*

                Yes, exactly. I’ve been losing weight on chemo, and I don’t mention this to people because I don’t want to listen to them call it a silver lining. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not…and really, that shouldn’t be the default reaction, but our culture is pretty messed up about the weight thing.

      2. TracyDee*

        Why yes, fabrics cut on the bias do tend to look better on thin people. Brava Victoria for finding the silver lining!

      3. Pedeblee Berbaum*

        That wasn’t nice at all. “Check your biases.” So direct and impolite. Ha-RUMPH!

    1. Girl with the farting Co-worker*

      I was 120 lbs and 5’3″ when this started. I didn’t need to lose 23 pounds, and looked like I was dying by the time this was all over. There was NO bright side to this. I was severely under-weight, and actually suffered damage to my tooth enamel from throwing up so often. I have a naturally high metabolism and it took me months to get back to a healthy weight.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Oh gods, ow! I’m sorry that this happened to you. My partner has a strong sensitivity to foul smells, and it gets pretty bad at times, so I can sort of get how miserable you were. I have a cast iron stomach, but I’m not so sure I could have handled Terrence and Phillip in One Body, either.

      2. TracyDee*

        I am so sorry about what you had to go through. I wonder if you could take legal action against your former co-worker for his creating a hostile work enviornment? (especially since he admitted to your replacement that he was doing this on purpose). AAM, is this feasible?

        1. Girl with the farting Co-worker*

          I have no desire to take legal action. I’m out of there and it’s not worth the hassle to me. My new office smells wonderful and that’s all that matters to me. :-)

        1. Tekoa*

          I feel for you on the weight loss thing. Due to job stress I’ve lost about 39 pounds. The lowest I got to was 108 pounds and I was afraid if I lost any more I would end up in the hospital. So I agree with the statement that job related weight loss is not always good!

  2. JillianJigs*

    Sounds like the beginning of a chick lit novel. now that he realizes how much he misses her, he will reform his ways…

  3. Waiting Patiently*

    I have to admit the beginning of this gave me a good chuckle. -And 23lbs lighter made me envious.
    But what a major jerk and I second that he comes back as a Depends!

  4. KayDay*

    I have so many conflicting thoughts about this:
    1. OMG
    2. What a @#$@#!
    3. No, for reals, what a jerk; who does that?
    4. Hey, maybe you should market this as a diet retreat? You could charge people thousands of dollars to hang out with a really gassy jerk.
    5. I love that you now work in the natural gas industry.
    6. How did you explain the job change in your interview???

    1. The Other Dawn*

      RE #6: You bring up a good point, actually. How DO you explain your reason for leaving when it’s…this?

      1. KayDay*

        After working with a coworker who expelled large quantities of naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture, I became interested in the potential uses of such gases to create usable energy, thus turning a negative experience into a positive one.

        1. Girl with the farting Co-worker*

          Genius! Wish I had thought of that!

          Thankfully, I could tell at the interview that my new boss was pretty cool (hands down, best boss I’ve ever had and so glad I switched jobs) so I was honest with him and told him exactly what happened. I was a little nervous and worried it would cost me the job (another industry populated with men), but he was very understanding.

  5. Dan*

    If I had been in your position, as soon as I would have been denied changing office by my manager, I would have left the company. What kind of manager would do that?

  6. Katie the Fed*

    Wow, HR is really on their ass on this. How is it anything other than a hostile environment when someone is deliberating fouling up the air in order to make the woman quit?

    What a terrible, terrible employer.

  7. jesicka309*

    I’m glad you got out of there….that has to be at the top of the ‘awful coworker stories’ I’ve seen on AAM. He changed his diet??? Who does that??
    Good on you for getting out.

    1. Anonymous*

      It seems amazingly petty to go out of your way to *change your diet!* to force a coworker to quit because you don’t like her.

      Talk about using biological weapons! :p

  8. Ellie H.*

    OMG, I can’t believe what a jerk this guy is. I’m impressed that you managed to keep it together so professionally instead of screaming at him and possibly throwing something at his head. Petty, but it’s too bad there is not some way to get revenge on him . . . this seems singularly deserving of it.

    1. Jamie*

      Yeah, it’s too bad you can’t go back and sew dead shrimp into the hems of the curtains in the office.

      A little central heating and there would be a very horrible smell not easily to intuitively trace filling the office.

      Because that would be totally wrong.

  9. MK*

    Sounds like that company needs an EEOC charge. It might not be (isn’t) a million dollar lawsuit but you could sure make them suffer a bit.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not 100% positive, but in order to have a successful lawsuit, I’d think that the company would have needed to have known that the guy’s motivation was based on sex discrimination (or should have reasonably known).

        1. JT*

          I’m generally not in favor of legal escalation when someone has moved on but…..

          This is a case where I think consulting an attorney would be worthwhile – even if not successful in a lawsuit it might be possible to alarm the company enough for them to do something about this farting guy. And certainly put them on notice that this guy is abusive so if he dares do anything else there is a record of it.

          There might not be enough likelihood of winning for an attorney to want to take the case, but I really think this blatant sexism deserves a response.

          1. Mike C.*

            And I just thought of this, but if this guy was going so far as to change his diet to harass this person, what if that didn’t work? Would he have escalated his behavior?

            1. Some European*

              I dont know the legal aspects, but at the described level that sounds not only like harrassing her, but more like deliberately poisoning her over months with H2S and NH4 when a probably thin person is loosing so much weight over this.

          2. Anonymous_J*

            I would think it would be worth it, too. The woman lost about a sixth of her body weight due to illness deliberately caused by this jerk!

            Further, she was treated like garbage when she tried to go through proper channels to try and resolve the issue.

            It’s bullying!

            1. Anonymous_J*

              Actually, in the workplace, it’s called mobbing when several people are involved, and it sounds like that was the case here.

      1. Lisa*

        Who cares if she gets any money, drown them in paperwork with a complaint! By law don’t they have to respond to every complaint? You could also go on http://www.glassdoor.com and Google+ and put some lovely detailed graphic reviews that will stick to their online brand like glue. :-) If its true, its not libel . If they have a facebook page, they can just delete your messages, but not on Google+ or Glassdoor.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, they don’t have to respond to any complaints by law, although it would be really dumb for them not to respond to complaints about harassment or hostile conduct based on a legally protected class like sex, race, religion, etc. (because that would make it harder for them to protect themselves if they were sued in one of those areas — but there’s no legal requirement to “respond to complaints”).

          And it’s not smart to file frivolous legal complaints because it’s a huge investment of energy and sometimes money, and it can really impact your reputation. Plus, even when it’s not a frivolous complaint, the same things are true, and it can have an impact on your future hireability (fairly or not).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I just realized that you were asking whether they have to respond to legal filings; I thought you meant they had to respond to internal employee complaints. Yes, they’d need to respond to a legal filing just like anyone else, but it’s still unwise for the reasons above.

            1. Lisa*

              I was thinking of it as a labor board complaint that isn’t a lawsuit, and really more of a state org than an internal company thing. Given the context of HR ignoring her internal complaints, they will prob just ignore / delay a response to any other complaints even if it was a legal filing.

              I just hate that he can get away with it, and she got so sick from it and this guy is free to do this type of thing again to another unsuspecting woman or man he doesn’t like. I wish she had called the HR department or a higher up person to their office for something when he did it, and let them discover the fresh smell themselves.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The labor board doesn’t do complaints that aren’t based on violation of law. I think what’s happening here is that you’re feeling like this is so unfair that it must be illegal, and there must be some legal action the OP can take … but there’s not. Lots of things are grossly unfair but not illegal (and often when you think them through, you’ll want them to stay that way).

                1. Maia*

                  Lots of things are grossly unfair but not illegal (and often when you think them through, you’ll want them to stay that way). I can’t see any reason why it would be good for this kind of intentional harassment/bullying to remain legal… Also, technically he DID do something illegal by discriminating against her for being female (according to his admission)–the issue is that she probably can’t prove it.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Let me explain what I mean by that. There’s not going to be a law passed that farting coworkers need to be dealt with seriously. Rather, you’d end up with a law requiring employers to investigate every complaint brought to their attention, or something along those lines. So now let’s say that you’re managing a business and as a result of this, you’re now burdened with a legal requirement to investigate any complaint anyone makes, even if it’s that their coworker chews too loudly or uses a shampoo they don’t like or looks at them in a way they don’t like. That would be ridiculous, and it would be a silly burden to force on businesses. Managers need to maintain the right to decide what is and isn’t worthy of their time and attention, assuming that existing laws aren’t being violated.

                  Does that mean that sometimes an employer will handle something in a way that seems unfair or wrong? Yes, it does. And there’s no way to legislate that away, at least no desirable way (just like you wouldn’t want to outlaw lots of other things that also suck, like bad marriage decisions or poor financial planning).

        2. Jamie*

          Developing a reputation for baseless lawsuits will hurt her reputation at least as much as the company at fault.

          Complaints/suits take a lot of effort and if it were me I’d spend that energy investing in my new job and not mired in what happened at the last place.

  10. jo91150*

    You should have lit matches every time he farted. That burns off the gases. And with enough practice, you might have set him on fire.

  11. Mike C.*

    In all seriousness, this is harassment against someone for being a member of a protected class. It doesn’t matter if the stench comes “naturally” or if the employee decided to hide a dead skunk in her desk – the effect is the same.

    If the OP wants some revenge, have a chat with a labor lawyer and see what they say. I know lots of folks don’t like the idea of “getting a lawyer involved”, but this is sexual discrimination, and this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening in a civilized society.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree…..the thought of this stenchhole getting away with this kind of behavior is infuriating. Talk to a lawyer, and at least look at your options. Seems wrong to be so passive about this kind of thing, it’s just not right.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If the company didn’t know it was gender-based — and if a reasonable company wouldn’t have known, with this set of facts — I doubt there’s anything actionable here.

      1. JT*

        But even the threat of action might hurt the farter’s job prospects. That has some value. And it’ll but his company on notice.

      2. Mike C.*

        A reasonable company would have also looked into the issue. You’ve mentioned this before, but hygiene issues are something that managers of reasonably companies commonly deal with. Had this company looked into the issue they would have found out what was going on and dealt with it, but decided to ignore it and any reasonable alternatives.

        One also has to wonder if a male employee was making similar requests to move or have coworker hygiene issues dealt with that his concerns would be addressed in a more professional manner. It’s speculation, but I’ve seen a few boy’s clubs in my day, and it’s quite ugly.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          I agree with Mike C. HR failed to perform due diligence and refused to make any accommodation. They also told her, while refusing to investigate, that she was “too sensitive”. At a minimum I think it deserves an EEOC complaint. HR absolutely had their chance to investigate so I think it is reasonable to file.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            On the other hand, a company shouldn’t have to assume that any obnoxious behavior might be rooted in sexism. I mean, if a company refused to look into a complaint of, say, someone popping their gum all day long — because they felt it was too petty to address — and it later turned out that the gum-popper was motivated by sexism, would you really say that a reasonable company should have investigated earlier?

            1. JT*

              It’ s important to fight (a little) even if you probably won’t win, so the next person who faces this has it easier.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But bringing legal action is a serious thing, particularly if something isn’t actually illegal — it can harm the reputation of the person who does it, and it’s not something to take lightly.

                1. JT*

                  Talking to an attorney and having then write a letter informing them of what happened, or having the attorney give advice on how to communicate it is not the same as filing suit.

                  It would give the OP an understanding of the situation from a legal point of view.

                  After that, she might want to write a letter herself saying something like “Since leaving, I’ve heard that X said he did….[details]. I understand that you could not have known his motivation but thought you would like to be aware of it now in case there is another conflict with female employees in particular, since that sort of behavior could be construed as illegal harassment.”

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You’re right that it’s not the same as filing suit, but it still comes with ramifications. If she has a lawyer communicate with the employer on her behalf (and toward what end, since there’s no legal action here?), she’s now approaching them in an adversarial way. She risks them slamming the door shut on references, networking, etc. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t do it if after careful consideration she decides it will get her the best outcome (although I still don’t know what outcome that would be), but it’s not as simple as “oh, just fight them!”

            2. Mike C.*

              I don’t think gum popping rises to the level of something a manager should deal with, let alone the level of something like harassment.

              Hygiene issues on the other hand are an issue that reasonable managers at reasonable companies deal with on a regular basis. Had they talked to the individual and made them take steps to solve the problem, the harassment would have stopped. Or maybe while looking into it they would have found out that there was something more to it. Either way had they acted as a reasonable company acts, the problem would have been solved.

            3. EngineerGirl*

              I dunno. She brought in a doctors note. At that point HR might want to consider it ADA but instead said “overly sensitive”. She also lost more than 20 pounds. So either something was happening or the OP had issues. Either would warrant an investigation.

              My problem with HR is their failure to investigate after several complaints.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The ADA requires “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity” in order to be in effect. A doctor’s note on its own doesn’t incur any legal obligation on the employer’s part.

                Believe me, I’m not defending the employer — they should have intervened. But I can’t agree that a company should have a legal obligation to investigate every complaint, no matter what it is, just in case it might turn out to be rooted in sexism (or in any other hostile conduct based on a legally protected class) even without any evidence supporting that. A company has the right to say “work that out yourselves; it doesn’t rise to the level of our intervention” if that’s what they deem best for their business and if there’s no evidence that there are legal issues in play.

                To be clear, I do NOT agree with how the company handled this; I agree with everyone else that they handled it badly and that they should have intervened. But I don’t see a legal issue, and I think it would be a shame if there were efforts to make it one.

                1. Jamie*

                  FWIW I totally agree that while this is gross, it doesn’t rise to the level (imo) of involving lawyers for the reasons Alison stated.

                  If a co-worker pats your butt, or always has some leery comment about your body – sure – HR would be derelict in not assuming they had some sexual harassment happening. But I can’t imagine any reasonable person making the leap that the smells were based on sex discrimination.

                  It’s too bizarre – reasonable people just wouldn’t link the two.

          2. Jamie*

            Forgive me if I missed this in the previous comments but can we also point out that she brought in a doctor’s note and her complaint was still ignored?

            Being Canadian, I’m not sure what the laws are in her area but shouldn’t that have prompted an investigation on HR’s part, or since they failed to do that, can’t a complaint be lodged against the company?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              There’s no legal obligation to act on a doctor’s note unless it says something that would invoke the ADA or FMLA. It doesn’t sound like this particular situation would. You might argue that there’s an ethical obligation — or a good management obligation — but there’s no legal obligation (again, unless the situation triggers ADA or FMLA, which this didn’t).

      3. Victoria HR*

        Also, the OP didn’t find out that it was because of her gender until after she left and someone asked the offensive guy about it. That’s when he admitted it. So she’d have to get that person to testify that that’s what the guy told him/her.

        Personally I would have had the biggest bottle of strong fragrance oil on my desk at all times, along with the longest thickest reed diffuser sticks I could find LOL

    3. fposte*

      Since the company didn’t know it was gender-based when she sought redress with them, it’s not likely to be something the EEOC will address.

  12. Karen*

    I realize this is petulant, but I wonder if the OP could have just sprayed so much Febreeze that Farty McFarterson would have been made to feel equally ill.

    1. Ariancita*

      I was actually thinking of cheap drugstore perfume. Spraying it every time would be worse than Febreeze and would make the farter equally sick and nauseous. Petty though.

      1. Twentymilehike*

        I’m actually surprised that the farter could stand to be in there. There are plenty if times I have to leave the room or roll down the window after my own farts! … Or maybe I’m just “too sensitive” as well ….

        1. Ariancita*

          I have a theory about most people liking the smell of their own farts, but that’s another story… :)

          But I’m imagine this dude having to walk around all day and go home to a partner smelling like Bieber’s Girlfriend perfume and dealing with the fall out of that.

  13. Steve G*

    This is nuts! I’d a thrown a temper tantrum months ago, you have the patience of Mother Theresa that stuck with this.

    Your former workmate has a medical issue he needs to diagnose. Something in his bowels is off and needs to get fixed. Could be from too much drinking (causing a delay in digestion in the small intestine, hence more fermentation and smellier gas)….but I’m not a doctor, but the issue should have been him solving that, not your reaction to it!

    1. Ali_R*

      It seems the former coworker was well aware of his bowels and what aggravate them since he was intentionally eating things to make him fart in an effort to annoy his office mate.

      I happen to be married to someone like that, he is well aware what does and does not cause vile digestive odors. He has been known to find a little too much humor eating those particular foods.

      My husband has been known to eat aggravating foods to annoy a particular co-worker. I’ve heard him say, “We’ll be in the truck all day tomorrow so I am eating pizza tonight.” These are industrial electricians and not picking on anyone, just overgrown boys messing with each other. Sigh.

      Did I admit I married this? In my defense he of course hid this little treat from me in the beginning and thankfully he usually works camp jobs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ali R- am roaring with laughter at “Did I admit I married this?”
        Funny how these things crop up after a few years together… I so know what you mean.

        Steve G- I agree with you that the abusive coworker has an undiagnosed medical condition. I think that by avoiding certian foods he is only postponing dealing with the problem. I wonder if he will still be feeling so smug when he is in the hospital having a section of intestine removed.

        Alison, I think you have saved OP big bucks in legal advice here. No point in starting up action. However, is there anything OP CAN do? Such as notifying HR and/or department of labor in her state? (They can keep her complaint on file to establish a pattern of behaviors from Mr Stinky?) I find it interesting that he can brag about his “achievement”.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ideally, she’d inform HR and her previous manager — framed as “I know we spoke about this many times during my employment, but since leaving I’ve heard that Bob has said that his behavior was intentional and designed to drive me out because he doesn’t think a woman belongs in our industry. As harassment based on a coworker’s sex obviously has the potential to cause huge liability problems for the company, I wanted to make you aware of it.” Then drop it and move on — at that point, it’s no longer her problem and it’s up to them whether they do anything with that information.

          There aren’t really other options; the department of labor won’t keep a file since there’s no legal violation.

          1. nyxalinth*

            I don’t want to go TMI, so I will just say my partner and I knew we really could accept each other warts and all when she finally did one. I told her “I thought you just did silent ones!” and she admitted to going to the bathroom when the urge struck.

        2. Twentymilehike*

          I have to disagree with the assumption that he has an undisguised medical problem. Some foods or combinations of food just make people gassy and that’s life. That’s usually why we don’t eat Brussels sprouts daily … If it was a serious medical condition there would probably be pain associated with it and he wouldn’t be doing it on purpose. I saw my mom go through that and there’s no way she would have given herself painful gas on purpose.

  14. Sissa*

    In all honesty, that kind of childlish behaviour is more common than you’d think. The best way to defeat morons like that? Ignore them.

    The more you react to it , the more it will make him do it. As ridiculous as it sounds, you know what I would have done with every fart? Taken a deep fake breath and said “mm, that smells nice!” or “I think you must have had *insert gross food here* for lunch”. That makes guys like that stop 99% of the time.

  15. Dennis*

    I think in a case like this you fight fire with fire. Eat the foods that you think will provide the most ammunition and go for the counter attack. Then it becomes funny and you would have become one of the boys. Problem solved.

    1. Anonymous*

      Women shouldn’t have to do something unpleasant they don’t want to (I’m assuming OP doesn’t enjoy having gas) in order to be “one of the boys” to avoid mistreatment. Men should instead learn to grow up and refrain from being sexist jerks who mistreat women.

  16. Elizabeth West*

    OP, you didn’t leave your job because of a farting coworker. You left because it was a toxic, sexist bunghole that didn’t appreciate you. I’m very glad you got out of there.

  17. Not So NewReader*

    I was just talking with a guy friend about this whole situation. In turn, he mentioned a friend of his, “Tim”, that could “control emission levels” also. In my friend’s story it seemed funny for a moment. This became NOT funny a while later Tim went to the doctor.. and the doctor found an tumor (outside the intestine) that was pressing on the intestine. This created a block or a partial block in the intestine…. I think you guys get the idea here.

    Makes me wonder about what microbes were floating through the air in that office.

  18. Gene*

    I agree that the OP is probably better off now that she left, but personally I would have fought chemical attack with chemical attack. If his emmissions made me physically ill I would have told him that and asked him to move it outside. When he didn’t (since it was a plan all along) I would have barfed on him. PRN.

    Pretty soon he would have gotten tired of being barfed on and changed his diet.

    1. Maia*

      Hahaha @ “barfed on him PRN”… and in fact that was my first thought too–puking on him every single time he made her nauseated would have probably put an end to his behaviour, at least until he could think up a new method of torture.

  19. Anonymous_J*

    This is just unbelievable, OP. Like I said, upthread, I’m glad you are out of that place! They sounds like horrible, horrible people!

  20. Miss Displaced*

    I can’t believe that people still get away with things like this in the workplace. From the dentist who thinks his assistant was “too sexy” and should “check his pants” to a farting, stinking Neanderthal.

    I would’ve found his address and set off the flaming bag-o-poo in revenge!

  21. N.*

    I think it is interesting to observe that until Mike C. (male if I remember correctly) and JT (unsure) had chimed in, that the comments on this page came from overwhelmingly female monikers. On any given day it would appear that more females tend to comment on any article, but the absence of the other male frequent responders seemed conspicuous. Huh. Wonder if the tag wasn’t exciting enough to get their attention, and seems rather telling, the the poor OP was seemingly ignored by her largely male counterparts as well.

    Unfortunately I bet hand over fist if she had decorated her “side” with frilly pink cushions, doilies, and dollies and bathed in perfume prior to coming to work, and worn appropriate yet overly feminine clothes, it would have disturbed these men into action, and HR would have had a complaint from the other side, and then what?

    I read recently (and if anyone is interested I will post a link) one of the reasons people sometimes use too much perfume is because the wearer’s brain shuts off the scent after a time, so thinking it has worn off, people douse themselves to the point of offense to others. Too bad no one has time (nor should have to make it) to play games at work, but I almost wish she would have assaulted him with her offensive femininity, and have him try to follow up with HR.

    She could have sprayed the perfume every time he farted, overly so and been immune herself if she was wearing a modest amount. Then when he complained to HR she could have said she was following their directive to ‘freshen’ after every fart as per their instruction. If they said anything to her she could say he was being “overly sensitive”. It might have compelled him to make it more blatent he was out to get her, and if HR followed up on his “petty” complaint wouldn’t she have reasonable grounds since she complained about something similar and was ignored?

    Pretty sad, but I once knew an older female engineer who learned early on the best way to prevent her personal tools from walking off, was to paint them pink though it admittedly it was out of her color wheel (thank you Carole Jackson and Doris Pooser for saving me from myself). As far as I know, she never lost another tool, and I am glad nasty tactics of people jealous that there should be a female engineer (full stop) never ended her career. I pity the fool that would F?!k with her today…

    Thank you all for indulging my fantasies today, in the end I am still forced to admit that living well (still) is always the best revenge, and if the OP is happy, maybe it was for the best she found a way out, rather than dealing with an untenable situation just because she was too stubborn to walk away. Too many people will dig the trench and ammo up for the long term before even asking themselves if a satisfying end even exists.

    As for Fartman, fate, divine retribution, karma, cause and effect, or what-have-you tends to even things out sooner or later. And he will have it coming…

    1. Jamie*

      Just a quick comment on the pink tools…that works.

      I lost tons of black handled screwedrivers, etc., when I first started. Bought a pink took kit 4 years ago and it’s still fully complete. Same with flash drives. When I bought normal colored flash drives I would have to chase them down to get them back because “I forgot it wasnt mine.”. Now that they are all in shades of pink and given on pink lanyards I get them back.

      People think its a statement, but that’s okay, just trying to protect my budget from having to replace stolen flash drives.

      Self defense comes in many forms.

  22. Susanna*

    Here in Britain someone with a farting co-worker who is ‘eased out’ of a job by a farting co-worker and unhelpful management could sue the employer for Constructive Dismissal.

    The Health & Safety at Work Act clearly states that an employer should provide a safe place of work for the employee as far as reasonably possible. If someone became sick as a result of being exposed to someone else’s farts and the employer refused a request for relocation, they would obviously not be providing a safe workplace. Even if the premises were so small that no alternative seating arrangement was possible, the employer would be expected to do something about the farter. I can understand why the Baltimore office farter got reprimanded! Another point worth making is that the farting was actually a product of gender harassment.

  23. Mimi*

    Knowing now that he was intentionally trying to drive you out…then my advice would have been to fight fire with fire. Yes. Eat the greasiest, cheese laden, onion slathered, chock full of beans chili for lunch. Because… (Looking you in the eyes earnestly) there is NOTHING stinkier than girl farts. I bet he would have magically been able to get back to his office. Also. After thinking about the other managers responses, I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t in on it. Bunch of insecure little boys who can’t stand the thought that a girl can do their jobs. *eye rolling commences*

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