Jun 03 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

America's love affair with absurd lawsuits is a secret to no one, but even this one is pretty "out there" - although whether it has any affect on the workplace remains to be seen.

According to the Associated Press, a Fox News employee is suing the owners of the building her employer uses for getting bed bug bites while at work.

The lawsuit, filed by one Jane Clark, alleges that she managed to come into contact with bed bugs which were brought unknowingly into the building by a colleague who is no longer with the company. Ms. Clark claims that this encounter left her unable to work Ė and more importantly Ė suffering from "post-traumatic stress disorder".

Now, I don't want to douse cold water on any claims, especially since I do not have all the elements of the situation. However, it is my view that bed bugs aren't the direst thing in the world, having consulted the Mayo clinic's web site.

They conclude:

"You're likely to experience only the itchy skin welts that bedbugs cause while feeding. However, some people develop more complicated reactions to bedbug bites, such as clusters of inflamed red bumps, dilation of the capillaries under the skin, formation of pus-filled blisters and hives up to 8 inches across. A rare possibility exists that anaphylactic shock may occur as an allergic reaction to the substances the bedbug injects while feeding."

Though the court has yet to listen to arguments, I'm wondering what exactly prompted the plaintiff to suffer from stress disorder. The building managers took the appropriate steps to ensure extermination.

Nevertheless, if such a lawsuit is found in favor of the plaintiff, expect it to open up the flood gates for actions against other insidious workplace "threats", such as dust, foul odors, dirty desks, etc.