My colleague is morbidly obese and her body odour is overwhelming – I want to tell HR about her smell but is it unreasonable to complain?
- Woman took to British forum Mumsnet to ask if she was being unreasonable
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A woman has sparked debate by asking whether it would be unreasonable to speak to HR about her musty colleague.
The anonymous user took to British forum Mumsnet to share her experience of the smelly workmate.
She wrote: ‘Long story short, I have a colleague who has worked with us for years but has an awful smell.
‘Unfortunately her body odour is overwhelming and makes me feel very nauseous. I’m very sensitive to bad smells and I get a waft of the bad smell because she’s placed herself directly next to me.
‘She’s morbidly obese. We have quite a few larger colleagues that work with us but they never have an odour.’
The anonymous woman said she finds it hard to get through the day and really struggles not telling HR about the problem (stock image)
The user added that she is ‘really struggling’ to get through her working day without telling HR about the problem and added that she cannot move desks.
The woman then asked if she was being unreasonable to complain to HR and tell them about the matter.
Mumsnetters took to the thread to offer their advice, with some sticking up for the woman and encouraging her to raise the alarm.
One user wrote: ‘No me and a colleague did this some years ago about another colleague.
‘Our manager had a word with him and he was really upset but it was horrific to sit beside. To be fair the next week he came in clean shaven and washed and we never had that problem again!’
Another said: ‘Well obviously first stage is to speak to the persons manager but if you’ve done that and no change then yes speak to HR, that’s not unreasonable.
‘Whatever someone’s size they (assuming no major health issue) can shower and wash clothes.
‘It’s horrible for people to have to sit next to that kind of smell all day. So no, not unreasonable at all.’
A third penned: ‘I couldn’t sit there. I’m terrible with smells and genuinely retch when I smell something like you describe.
‘That sounds vile. I think you should go to HR. Amazed how she can’t smell the herself.’
The anonymous user took to British-based forum Mumsnet to share her experience of the smelly colleague
The original poster of the thread also added that she personally has two showers a day and uses ‘extra strong’ deodorants
A fourth commented: ‘If it’s that bad then I think you need to speak to them. You’re at work for a huge chunk of time each day. You shouldn’t have to deal with that day in day out.
‘No matter someone’s size, if they take care with their personal hygiene, they shouldn’t be smelling like that. I can totally understand how it would impact you.’
The original poster of the thread also added that she personally has two showers a day and uses ‘extra strong’ deodorants.
But others questioned the woman and asked why she brought her weight up as an issue.
Mumsnetters took to the thread to offer their advice, with some sticking up for the woman and encouraging her to raise the alarm
One user wrote: ‘This is a disgusting thread. Weight is not relevant in terms of hygiene. Anyone can smell or not adequately take care of their hygiene.
‘Anyone can sweat, and just because someone is fat does not mean they have a problem with body odour.
‘I’m fat and I don’t actually sweat much. Never get damp underarms but of course shower, use good deodorant etc, wear clean clothes daily etc etc. Have never had a problem with hygiene.
‘An obese person has more skin folds but we do know how to wash and take care of ourselves.
‘Even if it is harder to reach certain spots then we find ways! Fat people care about their hygiene as much as anyone else.
‘Some of the posts on here are just disgusting fat bashing, and frankly very offensive. Some of you can’t wait to sneer at fat people, you love it. Hope it makes you feel better about yourselves.
‘Anyone can be negligent of hygiene. I’ve worked with some stinkers too, the worst being a man who would cycle to work then sit around in his sweaty clothes all day.’
Other Mumsnet user questioned the woman and asked why she brought her weight up as an issue
Another penned: ‘You’re having two showers a day, every day? You do realise using extra strong scented products is going to impact on your sense of smell?
‘You’re expecting others to raise a problem, but they haven’t. You’re literally hoping HR are clairvoyant. Only you have this problem with your colleague You’re going to have to raise it or cope.
‘You mention weight then say that’s not relevant, so why mention it? I don’t think you’ve thought through the issue a great deal. Is this a very recent occurrence?’
A third said: ‘It doesn’t sound pleasant, I’ll give you that. However, you are absolutely unreasonable for mentioning her weight, implying the issue might be because of that.
‘You continue to ignore the commenters who have also pointed this out. If you’re showering twice each day and using strong deodorants (which sounds vastly excessive) are you sure you’re not trying to hide anything yourself?’
A fourth commented: ‘Hold on. If this colleague has ‘placed herself’ next to you, that implies that people can choose where to sit in your office. Why don’t you just exercise the same choice for yourself?’
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