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WORKPLACE Q&A

Headache over allergies

June 24, 2007|From Newsday

I have extreme allergies and have received varying degrees of support from co-workers.

I had an allergic reaction to a dozen roses a co-worker received. Without being asked, she accommodated me by relocating them away from our work area.

I didn't have much luck with a new co-worker, though. She knows that her strong perfume makes my throat itch and my head hurt. But despite that, she has continued wearing it.

My supervisor suggested that I speak with the co-worker, rather than have the company issue a general memo about the problem, as I had requested. But I didn't want to speak with her because I didn't want to single anyone out.

The situation has stressed me out. Despite that, I like my job and want to keep it until I retire in a few years. How can I handle this problem?

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When you're dealing with a co-worker who denies that a problem exists, that makes a solution all the more difficult. What's worse: When the frustration causes you to blow up, you lose all credibility and become the problem.

Diane Pfadenhauer, who runs a New York-based human-resources consulting firm, said your supervisor shirked her responsibility when she asked you to speak with the woman about the fragrance problem.

Because your manager hasn't been able to resolve the problem, Pfadenhauer said, you may have to consider going to your human-resources department or to higher-ranking managers.

Make it clear that you need a work area free of fragrances. And if the company honored the request previously, as you indicated, it should continue to do so.

Pfadenhauer also advises that you put your communications in writing.

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