Vol. 8, Issue 1, February 9, 2010
Synthesthete Complains About Off-color Jokes
A Cuyahoga County employee, Jackson Fromm, has filed a lawsuit against the County Auditor's office, alleging that workplace conditions, in particular jokes frequently shared by staff members, aggravate a medical condition from which he suffers, synesthesia.
"Employees have a right to a working environment which does not offend their sensibilities," said Agatha Kendall, attorney for the plaintiff. "Despite bringing this to the attention of his supervisors numerous times, my client's coworkers continue to repeat humorous anecdotes that are visually distracting to the point where my client can barely see his computer screen."
Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
"This lawsuit sounds fishy to me," said Brendan Stark, the employee's supervisor. "Fromm keeps talking about social nuances and whatnot, but the situation seems black and white to me. This is just raising a hue and cry in the name of political correctness."
Fromm's coworkers disagree with the premise of the lawsuit, insisting that their workplace humor is in good taste.
"He says these jokes are off-color, but I think it's his lawsuit that looks funny," said Greg Larson, 34, a coworker who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity. "Things didn't go sour until very recently, mind you. I bet it's because he's sweet on this girl in Accounting and he's green with envy because she's dating someone else."
Observers caution that, if the suit is successful, it could spark a wave of imitators, leading to huge financial losses for the county.
"This whole business is going to have our board of directors seeing red," said Stark. "You can't go around suing people just because you're feeling blue."