So, a Study, has proven that you, yes you Reader, might not be less smelly yourself than the person you perceive does and want to harass for smelling.
Recently in an article in the Evening standard published on 12 April 2017, titled ‘Cyclist plead for more showers and drying racks in London’s offices,’ in which a group of employees put a challenge to their HR Department for improved facilities to help them smell less. Also, in 2016, a magazine, The Stylist went out on a limb, in an article titled ‘Dirty secrets,: how clean are you really?’ and challenged Londoners, well the UK on our cleanliness or the perception of it.
Being called smelly is usually a Kindergarten hazard. It’s the insult under aged children fling about to hurt, embarrass their friends and to gain power in the pack. Like animals, humans hunt in packs. Gangs are a natural evolutionary way for survival of the fittest. The gang leader gets to indicate to her/he’s group, who is accepted or not acceptable to join the pack. For the unaccepted, they get varying degrees of open aggression or passive aggression.
So what are the legal implications of these unsavoury matters. Technically, offensive smells are covered by the law. But, these are decided on balance of the grievous nature. Smelly armpits can be a sackable offence if HR have a company policy in place and all the warnings have been exhausted. However, if a discrimination complaint ensued, there is a hard look into the company policy by the law to see if it is balanced and does not breach any laws, in particular Human Rights. This is probably a hard one to swallow and aficionados of ‘I hate the Human Rights Act’ are probably stamping their feet right now, incandescent with rage.
Let’s look at this calmly. Recently, the Evening Standard published a report about smelly cyclist colleagues who were causing offence with their sweaty presentation in the work place. All reasonable. Amazingly, the cyclist won the argument by accusing Personnel for not having adequate shower units and lockers to store their sweaty cycling gear. What a nerve, but a perfectly legal argument. How can a company reasonably introduce a lawful policy that bans cycling into work? Especially since environmentalist would want their day in court; Pro Bono to argue the benefits to the environment. More power to the cyclist and more cost to the employer for introducing adequate facilities at company base. Any court would in all probability have found in favour of the smelly cyclist against their employer if they had been sacked.
There have been court cases. I note a case where a company and it’s employees were able to bring a successful, challenge against an Indian Sikh employee colleague whom they claimed smelled the office. They won on a technicality. The judge found the legal construction of the Claim by the Sikh unreasonable because it was bought on religious grounds and the discrimination was that the colleagues were racist because he was a Sikh. It was not because he was found to smell by the judge. Similarly in the past the Rastafarians have tried to argue their cases for the smelly weed on religious grounds and failed.
However, it’s the Study, by London’s Stylist magazine that’s worth a close look at, because the magazine posed a challenge to Readers asking, Quote:-
“Are you one of the 67% who shower or bath at least once a day? Or do you relate to the massive 63% of readers who admit they would consider eating food after it’s been dropped on the floor? Would you share a knowing look with the 19% of those surveyed who say they only wash their tights once a week or with the 1% of readers who say – and we hope there’s good reason behind it – they only change their knickers once per week? And crucially, would you ever admit that in public?”
Takes the wind out of you, don’t it! The magazine poses here unabridged:-
“…connotations of cleanliness are ingrained in us from childhood. They’re especially relevant for women – the ‘fairer’ sex, who are expected to be fresh and sweet-smelling and pure – while being sweaty for a man is often seen as virile and strong.”
I add that, there are also Ethnic and Racial connotations. It is a fact that being fastidious with your looks and your ‘threads ‘ is an important part of ethnic Britain. I believe this is a result of colonial influences. Being ostentatiously clean looking, protects you from degrading racial perceptions.
I think, being aware that being ‘smelly’ is natural more than a legal offence will keep you out of the law courts. Being polite to each other in our cleanliness considerations is important but misconduct to those we perceive as smelly is a criminal offence and the law obviously requires us to be reasonable in our perceptions. Its also hypocritical to accuse others since our own habits may just be not so perfect. Please find the links to these reports for your enjoyment posted below for your careful consideration.
tag> smelly and the law, offensive smells