Perfume in the Workplace

perfumeDear DW,
“I like to wear perfume to work, but a coworker asked me to stop wearing it because she has allergies. Do I really need to stop?”
Signed, Smelling Like a Rose

Dear Rose,
Yes, you do. The simplest reason is for the sake of common courtesy, says Sharon A. Hill, a certified etiquette trainer based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 
“If the person has asked you not to wear perfume, just don’t do it,” she says. “That’s the easy answer.”

If that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason, consider that by continuing to wear the scent that bothers your coworker, you may be hampering her productivity—and, by extension, the company’s. That’s not something you want to be responsible for, just 
for the sake of a favorite scent.

Finally, if you refuse to stop wearing perfume, you could be leaving yourself or your employer vulnerable to a lawsuit. There have been several cases in which scent-sensitive employees have sued over reactions to fragrances in the workplace. “In extreme cases, an allergy could be life-threatening,” Hill says.

You don’t have to forgo fragrance completely, Hill says. Just save it for social occasions. Who knows? You might even savor it more if you wear it less often.

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