Good news for luddites who think flatulence is just top bants, as – according to one judge in Australia – farting on your colleagues is not bullying.
To some extent anyway. I’m pretty sure holding down your colleague’s head and purposefully farting on them would be bullying. But repeatedly breaking wind inside a small, windowless office in front of other workmates is not bullying. Farting is, after all, a universal joke – it’s funny in any language.
Until, that is, you’re forced to share the aforementioned small, windowless office with someone who loves to let rip all the time.
David Hingst was so put off by his colleague’s wind that he thought it constituted bullying. So much so, in fact, that he took his former employer, Construction Engineering, to court, demanding $1.8 million AUD (about £980,000) in damages.
Hingst accused his former supervisor, Greg Short, of repeatedly farting in the small, windowless office they shared, which he saw as a form of bullying.
However, the Court of Appeal in the Australian state of Victoria has dismissed Hingst’s case, ruling that even if his ‘allegations of malicious flatulence’ were true, it does not necessarily amount to bullying, the Independent reports.
In the case, 56-year-old Hingst testified that he had moved out of a shared office space at the firm’s building primarily to escape Short’s smelly farts.
Despite moving office, Hingst claims Short would come into his new office and continue to break wind several times a day. It was not stated whether Short would ask Hingst to pull his finger or not.
Outside the court, Hingst said:
He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day.
He thrusted his bum at me while he was at work.
Hingst said he would spray Short with deodorant to counteract the farts, and apparently called him ‘Mr Stinky’.
Short, however, told the court he did not remember ever farting inside Hingst’s office, though he did admit it could have happened ‘once or twice’.
The judge found that Hingst ‘put the issue of Mr Short’s flatulence to the forefront’ of his bullying case, saying his argument was that ‘flatulence constituted assaults’.
The court, however, ruled Short did not bully or harass his colleague, and the construction company had not been negligent.
Hingst claimed the bullying had been so bad, it was the reason he was let go from his job in 2006. The firm says he was fired because of a ‘downturn in the construction industry’.
Hingst has said he will appeal the ruling in Australia’s High Court.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.