The Peckham Employment Tribunal has unanimously ruled that chronic flatulence is not a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The judgement was a disappointment for Ayama McTrumpitt (27), who claimed she had been unfairly treated and subsequently dismissed on account of a medical condition that meant she had almost no control over the production and release of wind from her bowels.
McTrumpitt told the tribunal:
"I know I expel wind, but it does not smell, and there is almost no sound."
But that wasn't the story told by former colleagues and business owner Joe Pegg, who said:
"There were a few sniggers at first, but you can't run a business with the windows open in the middle of winter. We had to go into different rooms to make phone calls in peace."
"As a sales executive, Ms McTrumpitt was required to go to the homes of prospective clients. We had a lot of complaints, including one which ended up with us having to replace a customer's white leather sofa."
"We tried to make the environment more comfortable for staff by having scented candles around the place. We had to get rid of them after a mysterious fireball englufed Ms McTrumpitt in the office. Luckily she was not badly burned, but a fire service investigation found the fire was caused by an accelerant, most likely a hydrocarbon gas, combining with the candle flames."
Finishing his evidence, Pegg told the tribunal:
"Ms McTrumpitt had become a health and safety risk, and we had to let her go. When we told her, she let one go. Again."
The trial was originally meant to be heard over ten days, but Employment Judge Jeremy Lavendar prematurely terminated the hearing on the first day, citing health and safety reasons.
Ms McTrumpitt's barrister Leah Keye quoted from the 14th edition of the Merck's Manual, a well respected diagnostic manual, ass-erting that of the four most common types of fart, her client mainly emitted quiet, open sphincter "pooh" types, which she described as "a common girl thing". She made an impassioned plea for consideration of Ms McTrumpitt's human rights, saying:
"Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of … a [democratic] society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man … it is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Without such pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness there is no 'democratic society'."
But Mr Pegg's barrister Terence Plugg contested this, reminding the Tribunal the McTrumpitt's colleagues had rights too, adding that even when the gas was released quietly, it was extremely aromoatic, creating a no-go zone in the office, and that in any case most of Ms McTrumpitt's releases were characterized by "a sharp exclamatory eruption that effectively interrupted and often concluded all conversation in the room."
After a short break outdoors, Judge Lavendar dismissed the claim outright, suggesting that Ms McTrumpitt might be assisted by a medical operation. Ms McTrumpitt said: "Do you mean on my arse, sir?". Mr Lavendar replied: "No, on your nose".
Ms McTrumpitt told reporters that she planned to appeal.