A case of a form of schoolyard squabbling arrived at a Court of Appeal in Australia on Monday. The court is tasked with deciding whether flatulence is a form of bullying.
According to 56-year-old David Hingst, a former employee at Construction Engineering, it certainly is.
Hingst sued the firm for bullying in 2017, accusing supervisor Greg Short (whom Hingst referred to as “Mr. Stinky”) of being a serial farter who regularly “thrusted his bum” at him, News.com.au reported, quoting the Australian Associated Press. Hingst is seeking damages of 1.8 million Australian dollars ($1.28 million).
“I would be sitting with my face to the wall and he would come into the room, which was small and had no windows,” Hingst told AAP, according to News.com.au. “He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day,” which led the engineer to spray deodorant at his boss, the news site reported.
The recurrent gas-passing, Hingst claimed, was part of a conspiracy to end his employment and caused him “severe stress.” (Hingst also alleged he was marginalized by employees and received bullying phone calls.)
Neither party to the lawsuit returned a request for comment.
During an 18-day trial, Short testified that he “may have done it once or twice, maybe,” but not “with the intention of distressing or harassing” Hingst, according to News.com.au.
Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Rita Zammit dismissed the lawsuit in April.
Zammit ruled that even if the flatulence had happened in a small windowless office, it “would not necessarily amount to bullying,” News.com.au reported. Instead, the judge said, there was “some inappropriate behavior in the office, including passing wind, but that it was ‘typical banter or mucking around.’ ”
Hingst also claimed that he was unfairly made redundant, but Zammit ruled that “it was a genuine redundancy and the deed of release was lawfully executed,” according to News.com.au.
On Monday, the case was heard by a panel of judges at the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria. They’re expected to make a ruling on Friday.