A Detroit city planner says co-worker's scent interferes with job performance, breathing.
Paul Egan / The Detroit News
In an opinion released late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff rejected the city's attempt to have Susan McBride's lawsuit, filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, dismissed.
McBride "has produced evidence that her breathing is significantly restricted" by a co-worker's perfume, and she has a potential claim, Zatkoff ruled.
Both McBride's Detroit attorney and the chairwoman of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation said Wednesday that Zatkoff's decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed is significant.
"He recognizes that this is the type of claim that's viable," said attorney Ann Curry Thompson, who represents McBride. "These are types of claims that in many jurisdictions ... are sort of pooh-poohed and are not taken seriously."
It's not clear that the city took reasonable steps to accommodate McBride's condition, the judge ruled.
"These perfume sensitivities are very real, and I can't tell you how many lives they are ruining," Johnson said. "Maybe there's beginning to be recognition that these things are serious."
McBride is seeking unspecified damages. Thompson said the major goal of the lawsuit is not monetary damages but "to educate people about the issue and seek voluntary compliance, where possible."