The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that an employee
with a hypersensitivity to certain scents did not experience
discrimination in employment as a result of her employer's
inability to snuff out all smells in the workplace.
Susan Kovios has a scent and fragrance sensitivity. By all
accounts it is severe. On January 14th, 2010, Kovios commenced
employment with call center operator, Inteleservices Canada Inc. On
January 18th, Kovios left Inteleservices' office for good after
experiencing severe reactions to the perfumes and colognes worn by
her colleagues. In the human rights application that followed,
Kovios alleged that Inteleservices had failed to accommodate her
disability by failing to enforce its fragrance-free policy.
While it was unclear from the medical evidence whether
Kovios' scent sensitivity constituted a disability under
the Human Rights Code, noting that Inteleservices was prepared
to treat it as such, the Tribunal proceeded on the assumption that
Kovios did in fact have a disability within the meaning
of the Code. That said, given Kovios' hypersensitivity,
the Tribunal held that a more rigid enforcement of
Inteleservices' fragrance-free policy would have made little
difference in the circumstances. In the Tribunal's
view, Kovios "...required not only an environment
free of noticeable scents, but an environment free of scents that
were not detectable to others but affected her because of her
In any event, apart from the strict enforcement of its
fragrance-free policy, Kovios never explained to
Inteleservices what accommodation she was seeking. As a result, the
issue of whether Inteleservices had met its duty
to accommodate was never engaged. On that basis, the
Tribunal determined that Kovios had not been discriminated
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