Turn up your noses if you must, but this is one of those tales that can only occur in that vortex of life, work and bureaucracy.
The Social Security Administration reprimanded an employee last month for allegedly creating a “hostile work environment” by regularly passing gas at the office, according to an official letter sanctioning the worker.
The Smoking Gun Web site published the document online. The agency said it withdrew its action against the employee before the letter was publicized, but officials did not respond to requests for a date of the rescinding action.
“When senior management became aware of the reprimand it was immediately rescinded,” agency spokeswoman Dorothy J. Clark said in an e-mail.
The agency also did not respond to questions about the status of the employee and what actions it has taken instead to address co-workers’ concerns.
The reprimand letter, which came from the agency’s Office of Disability Operations, cited 60 documented instances of the worker passing gas in his office over about 12 weeks. Names on the document had been redacted.
The episodes occurred as much as nine times a day, according to a log the employee’s supervisors created after his alleged offenses continued for more than three months.
Smoking Gun described the employee as a 38-year-old man working at a Baltimore Social Security office. The site posted what it claims to be a picture of the worker posing with Pepe Le Pew — the Looney Tunes cartoon character — at an amusement park.
According to the reprimand letter, the man told a supervisor in July that he would start turning on a fan in his work space, but the manager said such action would only “cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module.”
In August, the man told a supervisor that he was lactose intolerant and would purchase Gas-X to help deal with his problem, the letter said. But the log showed the issue continued for the next several months.
The worker provided proof of medical conditions that could prevent him from working full days at times, but the disability operations manager said: “Nothing that you have submitted has indicated you would have uncontrollable flatulence. It is my belief that you can control this condition.”
The American Federation of Government Employees declined to comment, and the union’s Local 1923, which represents Social Security workers in Baltimore, did not respond to queries.
Television’s “The Office” couldn’t have produced a better script.