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Gas-passing fed worker’s reprimand tossed out

– A federal government agency did more than wrinkle its nose at an employee’s flatulence problem, issuing an official reprimand after months of malodors. But the agency said Friday that it has since retracted the rebuke.

The reprimand letter, which is dated Dec. 10, charges the Social Security Administration employee with “conduct unbecoming a federal employee” and “creating a hostile work environment” because of the repeated gas passing.

It says co-workers didn’t want to work with the person because of the problem, which the employee seems to have attributed to lactose intolerance. The letter also contains a chart documenting 60 incidences of flatulence, nine on one day in September.

Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle said Friday in a two-sentence email that the reprimand was rescinded a week after it was issued “when senior management became aware of the reprimand” and that the agency, which has its headquarters in a suburb outside of Baltimore, could not comment further because of “privacy concerns.”

According to the letter, at least three people tried to get to the bottom of the smelly situation with the employee beginning in May, when the employee’s supervisor brought up the topic during a performance discussion.

The author of the reprimand letter, a manager, confronted the employee in July, noting several co-workers had complained and asking if “you could make it to the rest room before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor.” Later, after a conversation with a deputy division director, the employee apparently blamed the problem on lactose intolerance and offered to purchase Gas-X.

The employee’s flatulent episodes were then documented by date and time over a three-month period beginning in September. The letter does not explain how the record was made.

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