Mother Files ADA Lawsuit Against School for Failing to Ban Perfume

The mother of a 17-year-old Indiana high school student has filed a lawsuit against her son’s high school because the mother claims the high school has failed to protect her allergic son from perfume. The lawsuit was filed as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and was filed on November 12.

The 17-year-old high school student is supposedly allergic to perfume, cologne and body scent sprays. Over the last year the high school student has had to be treated for multiple reactions to perfumes at school and has had to be taken to a local hospital by ambulance three times to be treated for respiratory distress. The teenager’s high school responded to the student’s reactions by asking students to limit their in-school use of sprays and perfumes. The principal of the school said she could not take any further action. Feeling the school’s limited ban of perfumes was not enough of an accommodation, the student’s mother filed the lawsuit on his behalf.

According to the lawsuit the high school student has only suffered an anaphylactic reaction while in school and “can tolerate exposure to the normal scents found in contemporary American society, and reacts only to freshly sprayed perfumes, colognes and body sprays in the air.” Some allergists believe that an allergy to perfume would be highly unlikely because of the size of perfume particles and that sprays are usually more irritating to people who have asthma. One allergist thought the claim did not sound credible because he did not expect a person to have the same allergic reaction to different sprays that have varying odors and scents.

The lawsuit claims that the high school student’s allergic reaction has been confirmed by allergy testing conducted by a local hospital. The complaint says that when the teenager is exposed to scented sprays meant for the human body, the boy’s respiratory passages “literally close.” If the teenager wins the lawsuit, the Americans with Disabilities Act could be interpreted more broadly.

Source:, “Allergic Teen Seeks High School Perfume Ban,” Courtney Hutchison, 11/19/10


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