What can I do about an employee whose been spoken to twice about bad body odor but the situation seems to just get worse?

I have now had 2 other employees bring the personal scent situation to my attention, 1 of whom says he becomes nauseous when working with this employee and seeks to avoid them (not easy to do in our small workplace). I have noticed the problem myself and am unsure what the next step should be: give this employee yet another opportunity to fix things or let them go for the sake of my other employees (as well as my customers)?

Asked on October 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If this employee has an employment contract, you need to follow whatever the contract says about discipline, termination, etc. If there is no contract, the employee should be an employee at will, which means you can suspend or terminate him or her at any time, for any reason--including bad odor. You therefore would seem to have the option of giving him or her one more chance, or simply letting him or her go.

Note that IF the employee can someone link his or her bad body odor to a disability (or, I suppose, a religious observance), you may have to make some accomodations and might not be able to summarily terminate the employee. If the employee tries to do this, you should consult wiith an employement law attorney about how to handle.


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