In almost every workplace you will find employees with different backgrounds, habits and styles that can be distracting or annoying, especially when it comes to poor personal hygiene, including body odour, bad breath, etc. Knowing how to address those issues without crossing any legal lines can be challenging.
In his recent Globe and Mail article, What can we do if a colleague emits a strong odour?, Daniel Lublin answers some commonly asked questions from readers, such as dealing with an employee’s poor hygiene and individual severance entitlements.
Daniel Lublin’s quote on this topic is summed up below: “Some of the causes of the odour could be protected under human rights laws (age, race, religion, disability), which means discipline or dismissal is prohibited unless you can show she cannot perform the job you hired her for because of the smell. If the smell is because of poor hygiene, then you have more options and can treat this as any other form of non-compliance with the company’s expectations.”
For this reason, it is always wise to consult with an employment lawyer who will explain what your rights are and give you a legal opinion and strategy regarding workplace issues. To learn more, Mr. Lublin’s article can be found here.