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Who has the responsibility for allergens at work?

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posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 02:49 PM
This may have fit in medical or another couple for the diverse things it touches on, but seemed best here because it's really not any one that grabs the attention over the others, IMO. This really is an "Other" kinda topic to consider, when we look at the specifics that define it.

Now this isn't a real HARD question about substances people are allergic to and the workplace, in most cases. Workplaces make accommodations (and extreme ones in some cases) to accommodate. Even Baseball fields are coming to accommodate by No Peanut sections. When I was doing some temp work one summer, I worked at the Hudson turkey kill/processing plant and discovered I had an allergy to bathing in caustic chemicals while cleaning the 7 foot high 'bathtubs' the turkeys went through to chill them. That couldn't be accommodated, so I quit. No hard foul. It happens.

This isn't baseball and it's not a turkey plant, tho some may come to think of some involved as turkeys by the story itself.

Let's have a look...

DALLAS (CN) - A former Dallas-area police officer was fired because she is allergic to cayenne pepper, a key ingredient in pepper spray, she claims in court.

Angela Figura sued the city of Rowlett in Dallas County Court on Thursday.

Figura claims that soon after she was hired in September 2012, she disclosed her allergy in police academy training paperwork.

Umm.. Okay. I'm kinda lost. You go sign up to be a cop. Fine. I can buy that maybe some very sheltered person made it through a modern high school without ever once hearing about a Police Officer macing or peppering someone. I can accept, somehow, she missed 3 months of cops peppering people all over the country in late 2011 like it was a new national sport or something (Occupy). Fine Fine... She was in the academy in late 2012, so Okie... Maybe she led that sheltered a life to be totally unaware of the fact she'd be required to handle and administer pepper as a routine part of her job as a cop.

So...why not gracefully bow out of a mistake for a chosen profession after learning's not physically viable due to allergy? They did come to ask her for details..

"On April 3 and April 9, 2013, Chief W.M. Broadnax sought information from Figura regarding her sensitivity to cayenne pepper. Figura provided medical documentation indicating that she could perform the 'essential functions' of her job and that being exposed to cayenne pepper was not likely to be 'life threatening' to her though it could cause 'respiratory complications' at times."

Figura claims Broadnax accused her of being dishonest about her disability after she proved she was able to perform her job. She says she was fired due to her gender or her sensitivity to cayenne pepper.

I'm rather curious to see how people feel on this one? It's not really a police issue itself, because she wasn't one yet. At least not long enough to be called more than a rookie. So, looking at this as a simple chemical presence as a standard part of the workplace....should someone be able to sign up for a job they are literally allergic to by a core aspect, then sue because they signed up for a job they were allergic to?

I'm still a bit lost on what reasonable accommodation could have been made? The entire Dallas City Police Department stops using pepper spray? I mean not as a social issue or again, a police issue itself...but is that even laughably realistic to suggest, let alone expect?

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 02:57 PM
Some people can't do what other can. That's a sad fact of life. If she was aware of this condition and didn't disclose it she is completely open to dismissal. No grounds to sue. And I can't see how she would be unaware. She could still be a cop though. If she doesn't mind riding a desk.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 03:00 PM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

The physical ability to do a job should be one of the elements in deciding if you can be hired to do the job.

I could fill out an application to a ballet company.

But when they don't hire me because I can't dance, am 51, have artificial joints, am basically old and crippled, can I sue the ballet company because my physical ability does not coincide with what is required for the job?

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 03:04 PM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

This is actually a laughable case, IMO! She knew full well of the pepper spray the cops use.I see this as an attempt for easy money, or so She thinks. However, I have seen some VERY frivolous lawsuits Pass for the person who filed the claim, so it would Not surprise me in the Least if She wins. I would NOT let it be in Her favor if I were the Judge on this one. LOL!!!

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 03:06 PM
150 years ago people with life threatening allergies would have died before being able to pass on their genes to subsequent generations.

In the last 20 years, I've noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of people with severe allergies.

I'm not sure what the answer is...

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 05:41 PM
In this specific case, (as outlined in the OP) this would be akin to being a food critic at a seafood restaurant with shellfish allergies. The same argument can be made for "no-smoking" bans in bars and eateries.

If you know, and don't want to be around something that has the potential to be harmful to you, no one is forcing you to accept that job.

I think non-smoking bans in private establishments are ridiculous. Yes, non-smoking restaurants claim to "do better business", and that's their prerogative.

I wouldn't apply for a job at the Jiffy factory knowing I have an allergy, and then sue when fired for not disclosing it. This is a bastardization of the legal process, and frivolous lawsuits like that should be treated as a form of "paper terrorism".

Legal cases like this clog up the justice system, and keep legitimate cases on hold for months.
edit on 29-6-2014 by MystikMushroom because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 05:51 PM
Why wouldn't they just give her a taser or a billy club instead? The cops here don't even use pepper spray. I think she has a valid case.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 06:07 PM
Wouldn't it legally come down to pre-employment screening? Usually if you apply to work in an environment that has certain risks associated with it, they screen you for compatibility. Say, if you apply to work in a restaurant, they give you a basic questionnaire about certain food allergies, and if you have them, they don't have to hire you. If you fail to disclose such allergies and have a reaction at work, then you can't pursue legal recourse. Same with other types of employment that has risks - UPS or Fedex ask if you can lift a 50lb box. If you answer yes, then throw out your back lifting said 50lb box, you can't sue them into oblivion for it. Policework seems high on the list of careers that carry risks, I'm sure most cities cover their own a** from a legal standpoint with a comprehensive pre-screening. Maybe this city failed to do that, and she's taking advantage of that with this lawsuit.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 06:08 PM
People are always complaining about there being to many laws and governments telling us what to do. Allergy laws is just another example of this.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 06:23 PM
a reply to: WP4YT

Part of the training is to get pepper sprayed. Part of the job.

If someone was allergic to chlorine, could they sue the local recreation department for not hiring them as a pool lifeguard?
edit on 29-6-2014 by jrod because:

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 06:43 PM
I can't say much for the laws on the workplace, and I guess it depends whether one has a rare allergy or a common one.
I know a lot of hairdressers complain.

I've had a problem with a food product called Quorn (made from a vat grown fungus called Mycoprotein), and it seems many people have been violently sick from it, yet the company claims the allergy only effects a handful of people.
I'd like them to put warning labels on their product.
edit on 29-6-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 07:19 PM
It goes with the job. If you can't handle pepper spray than maybe you shouldn't be a cop. There are other professions out there that don't use pepperspray. So now this cop is vulnerable to people with pepper spray and she may decide to shoot them if they spray her because they are mad she kicked the dog.

I worked jobs where I had to be around people wearing perfume and aftershaves which I can have problems with. So I chose work where I could work outdoors. I can shovel manure all day but can't put up with the crap people wear.

So, is everyone going to ban perfume and aftershave because a lot of people cannot tollerate it?

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 07:22 PM

originally posted by: rickymouse
So, is everyone going to ban perfume and aftershave because a lot of people cannot tollerate it?

Actually yeah. Many workplaces are going this route.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 10:55 PM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

There are medical centers with signs in the elevators for not wearing any type of cologne or perfume. Visitors, doctors, nurses and staff. Some people in the facility could be allergic to what some may be wearing.

Oh...and strong soaps as well. Its understandable. But I would think to take a job under conditions you are or become allergic to... is on you.

posted on Jun, 29 2014 @ 11:15 PM
I don't want to watch the world burn. She does, her doctor does, her lawyer does. They're all lucky I'm not in charge of the world ... because there ARE certain things I would take great delight in where proverbial flames are concerned.

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