When can we fire for offensive body odor?

Q. We have a staff member with body odor so bad that other staff members have complained and even threatened to leave the company. The employee has been disciplined several times and required to go home without pay until she agrees to comply with our grooming code. At what point can we legally terminate her?

A. If the employee is employed at-will, you are free to terminate her for any lawful reason. You should have a discussion with the staff member and give her an opportunity to explain the problem and discuss possible solutions.

If the problem persists and the staff member does not raise any issues implicating legal concerns (such as a medical condition that causes the odor or a religious practice), then termination is an option.