Pork roll farting lawsuit blows over — Judge says woman has no ‘Case’
TRENTON — A federal judge has thrown out a woman's discrimination lawsuit against a famed New Jersey pork roll company that she claimed made her quit her job after firing her husband for constantly passing gas.
Louann Clem, who quit her job at Case Pork Roll Co. on the day her husband was fired, said in the lawsuit that her 400-pound husband suffered various health issues, including "extreme gas and uncomfortable diarrhea," as a result of gastric bypass surgery that he underwent to address his obesity.
Named as defendants in the case were company president Thomas Dolan and owner Thomas Grieb. Clem said the two would make comments like, "We have to do something about Rich," and "We cannot run an office and have visitors with this odor in the office."
Because of her husband's health issues and the response by the company, Clem filed the lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite her claims of "associational discrimination," the courts ruled she had not proved "adverse employment action."
Clem’s initial claim was dismissed in July by U.S. District Court Judge Fred L. Woflson. In her amended lawsuit, which was dismissed in January, Clem described the comments by management as “insulting and humiliating” and said they caused her mental and physical anguish.
Clem said she worried about her and her husband's job security and that when she complained to Dolan, "nothing changed."
Wolfson said that while Clem's claim met two of four elements for associational discrimination, she could not prove an adverse employment action or that the disability was proven to be a factor in the employer's actions.
"The court found that the comments of Dolan and Grieb did not rise to the level of severity that is required to create an abusive work environment," Wolfson said in his opinion, adding that management's comments "can only be construed as inappropriate."
"Numerous courts from across the country have similarly rejected hostile work environment claims premised on coworkers and supervisors complaining about workers' bathroom usage and body odor in the workplace," Wolfson said.
Clem's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com