My boss says I smell bad

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been employed by my company for 11 years and prior to this year have not had any complaints. This year a fellow co-worker started accusing me of first, smelling like my dogs. When she “thought” I got rid of my dogs she started complaining of other smells. When I figured out who was complaining, the HR director stepped it up and got two different department directors involved. Now the HR director is telling me that these two directors are smelling trash, wet clothes that laid in the dryer too long, etc. This is absolutely not true.

She has met with me at least seven times this year, all on the same subject. I was even sent home. I have professionals that I work with that say that none of it is true. How do I defend against two directors and this nagging HR director? I also got written up for smelling. How does one defend against this? I’m at my wits end. Any help or advice would be great. I live in Florida.

To read the answer (with helpful advice from Donna Ballman) click here: My boss says I smell bad

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4 thoughts on “My boss says I smell bad

  1. Oh dear, what an uncomfortable situation. Good advice about having the friend come over. A true friend will tell you if you stink. Hopefully the OP will figure out the problem whether there is an odor or her workmates are just crazy.

    I would love an update on this, if you ever get one, Suzanne.

  2. Twenty-seven years ago I had an aunt with this same problem. Coworkers said she smelled. Family said she didn’t. She couldn’t smell anything on herself. Doctor after doctor after doctor said nothing is wrong; just change deodorant; it’s all in your head; just shower more.

    Coworkers continued to complain, family continued to deny, doctors continued to be of no help. When the mind is presented with two conflicting versions of reality it can only handle that for so long. First came the psychotic break, then she began hearing voices. I don’t know if there have been any improvements in treatments since then, but twenty years ago once you began hearing voices there was nothing else that could be done for you.

    Only after that point did a doctor discover that she did indeed have a medical condition that made her smell – she had some kind of fungal infection that caused an odor.

    So please, OP, get checked by a doctor, from head to toe, just in case.

  3. Hmmmm, very sensitive issue indeed. It would not hurt to get checked by a Dr. and let your HR know you are taking that step. That said, have the Dr. write a note either way. Then, if it is a medical issue, it could be considered a disability of some sort & then you may be protected somewhat. And perhaps if it is a medical issue there are treatments you can go through that will make it better. If you get the all clear, well then, it could be treated as a workplace harrassment issue.

    Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head was a harrassment issue and your co-workers sort of sound like kids in gradeschool. I would be looking for another job, but in the meantime, if you don’t have a medical issue that can be proven by your Dr., it MIGHT not hurt to mention that you feel you are being harrassed to HR (along with the clear Dr. note of course). IF it is an issue where one bully snowballed into several joining in, HR MIGHT try to put the stop to it.

    But it does seem like a very uncomfortable work environment so if you actively look around you may find somewhere else where you feel more comfortable and accepted… no matter how your Dr. check-up turns out. Good luck!

  4. It’s called harassment. They are building a case to fire you. Contact an attorney. They may be able to fire you at will, but they can’t treat you as if you are less than human. The imaginary customer complaint and having their personal friends submit complaints to higher ups is common if they are out to axe you. Let them pay your unemployment while your stinkiness goes back to school to train for a better job. Then sue the hell outta them for the humiliation.

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