Author Topic: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do? UPDATE 6/30, SHTF etc  (Read 3130 times)

TheGibberingPotato

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I would love to get some opinions here.

My spouse works for a large government contractor whom most of us have heard of.  The company itself is conservative.  They are deemed essential and are continuing manufacturing.  This is fine, we have no problem with that.  The company is very old fashioned and working from home doesn't happen.  In fact, my spouse was the first person on her team to get a laptop even.

What is concerning is the following:
-My spouses direct manager has allowed work from home as a result of the COVID-19 situation, however he makes fun of her for it, as do her coworkers.
-The manager has created a macho culture where people think you're a wimp if you work from home during the pandemic
-The manager openly expresses disbelief in the severity of the pandemic and ridicules the social distancing efforts
-Recently, the workplace had an employee test positive fro COVID-19.  The person came in to work symptomatic!!!  The company quarantined the persons group, but did not quarantine all individuals that interacted with the person.
-The company does not provide any sort of PPE or sterilization procedures for the work place.
-Although employees are interacting much less, they are not strictly social distancing.
-to be clear, there are plenty of situations where work can be performed from home.  However, the technologists (hourly)  employees do not have this option because they have 100% lab/production work.  The boss and techs feel that it's not fair if everyone else comes in.

How would you handle this?  My spouse is between a rock and a hard place.  To protect herself and society, she should work from home and avoid her coworkers like the plague, since they are acting like idiots and as a result of their actions are at high risk.  However, her boss is in a position of power and is more or less bullying her.

There have been other situations with my spouse's boss, unrelated to COVID-19, that I wont even describe here.  She could try becoming a whistleblower on multiple levels, but that would bring her tremendous stress/etc...

So, I'm just trying to hear opinions on what people would considering doing.  thank you!

*******UPDATE  6/30/2020**********

Information piece one:
Someone in my wife's group came in with COVID, gave it to my wife and another person.  He wasn't wearing a mask, had 'allergies'.  Her boss took no responsibility for the situation.  My wife was sick for about 2 weeks and is now fully recovered.  In other words, exactly what you would expect to happen based on the above post, did in fact happen.  Her work place has had multiple outbreaks.  Some relatives of employees have died.

Information piece two:
The harassment of my wife by her boss has continued, but somehow even got worse.  I'm reluctant to give details, as this is a public forum.  HR has been contacted.  Investigation is in progress.  Hopefully HR will be helpful, though we are aware that it will be his word against hers.  Without giving details, it has gotten to a point where she is starting to feel threatened, so action had to be taken.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 05:44:05 PM by TheGibberingPotato »

Kris

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2020, 10:06:09 AM »
So, she is allowed to work from home. But they make fun of her for it.

But then you say she is being "bullied"? What exactly is the bullying behavior?

I understand that it is probably uncomfortable for her to be made fun of. But I would say she needs to just stay firm, and when they make fun of her, not to engage with it.

Perhaps she can be a model/leader for others who might also become brave enough to do the same if she shows herself to be strong and above that kind of juvenile behavior.

Other employees will need to stand up for themselves if they want different behavior. She cannot change them by herself.

seemsright

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2020, 10:11:10 AM »
I personally would become the whistle blower.

She is being made fun of for working from home. I would go to HR for harassment.

If neither of those ideas work I would look hard at how much FU money there was in the Bank and then look at the Fed Stimulus and see if there was any Covid-19 protections for her.  Once you know where you stand financially and the job was just a pain in the ass I would bail.

Please keep in mind I refuse to put with the examples you gave. There is way more to life than putting up with that type of environment. Esp with a pandemic going around that would be my line in the sand.

KBecks

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2020, 10:16:25 AM »
Keep working from home, ignore all comments, but document.
Stay safe and healthy and keep working from home.
That's about it.


bacchi

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2020, 10:19:10 AM »
Anonymous leak to the press.

IsThisAGoodUsername

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2020, 10:26:26 AM »
I would go to HR for harassment.

TheGibberingPotato, also remember that HR is there to protect the company, not the employee. So act accordingly in your own best interest and do what you need to protect yourself.

FatFI2025

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2020, 11:00:04 AM »
I personally would become the whistle blower.

She is being made fun of for working from home. I would go to HR for harassment.

If neither of those ideas work I would look hard at how much FU money there was in the Bank and then look at the Fed Stimulus and see if there was any Covid-19 protections for her.  Once you know where you stand financially and the job was just a pain in the ass I would bail.

Please keep in mind I refuse to put with the examples you gave. There is way more to life than putting up with that type of environment. Esp with a pandemic going around that would be my line in the sand.

No she shouldn't do this. There's nothing to blow the whistle on because no laws are being broken. And if it's a conservative culture they will just ratchet up the pain for her until she quits.

It sounds like your wife isn't a good fit for that team and company, so she should find another job after the crisis subsides. Her actions send a strong message that she does not agree with the corporate culture and that's an absolute career killer. In the meantime, she should just ignore the criticism and continue doing her job remotely so she can transition on her own terms.

TheGibberingPotato

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2020, 11:15:13 AM »
So, she is allowed to work from home. But they make fun of her for it.

But then you say she is being "bullied"? What exactly is the bullying behavior?

I understand that it is probably uncomfortable for her to be made fun of. But I would say she needs to just stay firm, and when they make fun of her, not to engage with it.

Perhaps she can be a model/leader for others who might also become brave enough to do the same if she shows herself to be strong and above that kind of juvenile behavior.

Other employees will need to stand up for themselves if they want different behavior. She cannot change them by herself.

Maybe my bullying terminology isn't correct.  She is a new-ish employee, and they call her a wuss and that sort of thing for having worked from home a few days. 


TheGibberingPotato

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2020, 11:22:27 AM »
I personally would become the whistle blower.

She is being made fun of for working from home. I would go to HR for harassment.

If neither of those ideas work I would look hard at how much FU money there was in the Bank and then look at the Fed Stimulus and see if there was any Covid-19 protections for her.  Once you know where you stand financially and the job was just a pain in the ass I would bail.

Please keep in mind I refuse to put with the examples you gave. There is way more to life than putting up with that type of environment. Esp with a pandemic going around that would be my line in the sand.

No she shouldn't do this. There's nothing to blow the whistle on because no laws are being broken. And if it's a conservative culture they will just ratchet up the pain for her until she quits.

It sounds like your wife isn't a good fit for that team and company, so she should find another job after the crisis subsides. Her actions send a strong message that she does not agree with the corporate culture and that's an absolute career killer. In the meantime, she should just ignore the criticism and continue doing her job remotely so she can transition on her own terms.

The issue is more with her manager than with the company.  The company is conservative but has in the end respected the social distancing to some degree.  The manager meanwhile is actively resisting.  I would your comments apply but to the manager.  Meanwhile the manager otherwise loves her and is actively pursuing her promotion and such.  So there is a game of 'don't but the hand that feeds you'.

Your whistle blowing comment I thank you for but disagree with.  It may not matter whether or not a law is broken, and in any case at that point you need a legal opinion, and I assume you are not a lawyer.  In reality the company could get a considerable deal of undesirable press.  But unleashing that sort of shit storm is very complicated.  I don't think my spouse would like to go that way, nor would I force her.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2020, 11:24:50 AM by TheGibberingPotato »

Laura33

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2020, 12:27:32 PM »
Personally?  I'd quit in a heartbeat.  But I'm also old and FI and realize that not everyone is in such a privileged position.

If I were at a place where I needed the job or wanted to stay, I'd probably play the passive-aggressive game to maintain plausible deniability.  For example:  email HR, asking for clarification on the work from home rules, because it was your understanding that that was allowed, but you have received unfavorable comments from your boss for taking advantage of that, so you'd really like to make sure you understand the policy so you don't make a bad impression as a new employee. 

Also, document every. single. statement. from the boss.  And everything they DON'T do in response to infected employees.  They are seriously setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the pike if someone gets infected from work and they didn't even bother to notify people, clean the infected areas, etc. 

KBecks

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2020, 01:29:25 PM »
I would go to HR for harassment.

TheGibberingPotato, also remember that HR is there to protect the company, not the employee. So act accordingly in your own best interest and do what you need to protect yourself.

This is truth.

Just work from home and social distance.  Wear a mask, whatever, and do good work.

Bettersafe

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2020, 01:29:54 PM »
Personally?  I'd quit in a heartbeat.  But I'm also old and FI and realize that not everyone is in such a privileged position.

If I were at a place where I needed the job or wanted to stay, I'd probably play the passive-aggressive game to maintain plausible deniability.  For example:  email HR, asking for clarification on the work from home rules, because it was your understanding that that was allowed, but you have received unfavorable comments from your boss for taking advantage of that, so you'd really like to make sure you understand the policy so you don't make a bad impression as a new employee. 

Also, document every. single. statement. from the boss.  And everything they DON'T do in response to infected employees.  They are seriously setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the pike if someone gets infected from work and they didn't even bother to notify people, clean the infected areas, etc.

This exactly. I've been bullied at at work and bulling can do a lot of harm. It's not clear how bad it is from the info you provided (which is fine btw) but your spouse is the only one who can tell how it's affecting her. Make sure you document everything, keep a logbook and keep emails so you have written proof. Still, it's a personal decision if you want to do something with it, but if you don't document and in the end want something done it's hard to proof form retrospect.

IMHO, if she can handle it, sit it out during COVID-times and decide after if staying of going is the way to go. After COVID it should be clearer how working opportunities are and if it's wise to start looking for something else.

Hope all turns out ok in the end, it's not a nice position to be in.

BECABECA

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2020, 01:55:36 PM »
...
-to be clear, there are plenty of situations where work can be performed from home.  However, the technologists (hourly)  employees do not have this option because they have 100% lab/production work.  The boss and techs feel that it's not fair if everyone else comes in.
...

I would focus on this: by not opting to work from home, all the desk employees are unnecessarily exposing the essential onsite technologists. And itís not just a little extra exposure, we are talking an n! equation for exposure, since each extra person exposes them to all the people theyíve been exposed to outside of work. I would change the signature of my email to include a statement that I am working from home to reduce the exposure to these essential onsite technologists, change my phone message to include that statement, and Iíd spread that information to the technologists.

Iíd also give a tip to the health and safety department and the legal department that by this manager discouraging working from home, itís setting the company up for a possible lawsuit from the essential onsite technologists since the company unnecessarily increased their exposure.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2020, 01:58:37 PM by BECABECA »

TheGibberingPotato

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2020, 03:40:15 PM »
Personally?  I'd quit in a heartbeat.  But I'm also old and FI and realize that not everyone is in such a privileged position.

If I were at a place where I needed the job or wanted to stay, I'd probably play the passive-aggressive game to maintain plausible deniability.  For example:  email HR, asking for clarification on the work from home rules, because it was your understanding that that was allowed, but you have received unfavorable comments from your boss for taking advantage of that, so you'd really like to make sure you understand the policy so you don't make a bad impression as a new employee. 

Also, document every. single. statement. from the boss.  And everything they DON'T do in response to infected employees.  They are seriously setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the pike if someone gets infected from work and they didn't even bother to notify people, clean the infected areas, etc.

Thanks for the advice.  I would say we are 'lean FIRE' but not fully FIRED, and while my spouse could always walk, here are some reasons she'd prefer not to:  She recently left a job she was stagnating in for this one, and as soon as she joined this one, her career trajectory has taken off.  If she sticks at it at this job, she should be well set up.  There are a variety of reasons for this.  One is that she is the only new hire in a very long time, and so she brings all sorts of new perspectives (plus her own generally highly talented nature in my opinion) which help her perform very well.  Another detail is that she is the only female hire in a totally male dominated area.  But a big reason is that her manager (the source of the problems) is also the one who hired her, her biggest proponent, and her current best connection to success.  So it's sort of a pair of golden handcuffs.  In addition to that, her manager has been acting somewhat inappropriately with her in additional ways.  He has been sharing way way way too much information about his personal life with her and is spending so much time talking to her etc that one the secretaries has noticed it and was asking people if she should report it to HR. 

So there are a lot of red flags with her manager, but he's also her connection... and of course this guy has a power trip going on and is vindictive towards any actions even slightly perceived as threats against him.  He is older and in theory should be retiring in a year... but who knows!

So, I left all that out trying to keep things simple... but life is never simple.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 04:20:13 AM by TheGibberingPotato »

diapasoun

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2020, 04:46:45 PM »
That workplace situation is fucked up on multiple levels -- that boss has at least 10 individual red flags, and encouraging bullying (because telling people that they're wusses for following public health orders IS a form of bullying) and sexual harassment are not going to go away no matter what happens with the pandemic.

I'd be looking for another job right now and I'm neither old nor FI.

SunnyDays

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2020, 06:11:04 PM »
For now, just keep her head down and do her work at home as allowed.  If someone says something directly to her about her being a wuss etc, then look them right in the eye and say ďmaybe, but I will be an alive wuss.Ē  Then walk away.  Look for a new job ASAP.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2020, 06:22:56 PM »
Work from home. Do not let anyone peer pressure or bully you into putting your health at risk. And look for another job.

Sibley

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2020, 06:52:03 PM »
Might find some useful stuff here:
https://www.askamanager.org/work-and-covid-19-coronavirus

The manager sucks.

Shane

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2020, 06:31:44 AM »
Agree fully with posts above advising that your wife definitely NOT contact HR. HR exists only to protect the company, not the employees. Either work from home, to the extent possible, taking calculated risks when your wife has to go into the office, or just quit. Since you guys are already almost FI, why take big risks? What's the point of your wife's risking her life for just a little more $$? It's a subjective call, but if your wife feels sufficiently uncomfortable, I'd encourage her to quit her current job. Let her know that you support her quitting if she feels uncomfortable. She could always go back to work in a year or two. In the meantime, your wife could enjoy "lean FIRE," and see how she likes it.

lhamo

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2020, 09:39:29 AM »
I don't think she necessarily needs to quit at this moment.  Right now the official company policy is behind her.  It is her manager who is being a jerk, in multiple ways.  This is a good opportunity for her to set some firm boundaries with him and let him know his pressure tactics and harassment are unacceptable.   I like the suggestion above about putting a note on her emails about why she is staying home.  She can also repeat that to her manager, along with something like:

I am following CDC guidance and doing what I feel is best for the company, the community, myself and my family during this difficult time.  If there are specific reasons I need to be in the office to ensure effective communication and productivity, I am open to discussing further.  Otherwise, please respect my decision to work from home, which is in keeping with company policy.

He may be the kind of person who backs off once she starts asserting herself a bit.  Or he may amp up the snark/retaliation.  That will be useful information to have as she decides whether to try to stick it out until he retires or look for something else.

Two books she might find helpful in the meantime:

The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton
Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

Both of these give good frameworks for looking at unhealthy work environments and deciding whether to stay or go.



AccidentialMustache

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2020, 09:49:03 AM »
Do they offer employer sponsored/paid life insurance?

Find who issues those policies.

Call the issuer and ask if your employers policies cover deaths from covid. Ask them further if they cover deaths from covid if the company acted negligently vs the cdc's physical distancing guidelines.

With luck, this will result in the insurer calling company HR and telling them to get with the program or else face counter-suits if any policy claims are invoked.

HR now gets to protect the company from your moron of a boss!

TheGibberingPotato

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2020, 09:26:24 AM »
I'm pretty sure they do offer life insurance, though I don't think my spouse elected for it.  It is an interesting idea though.

MilesTeg

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2020, 09:33:36 AM »
Sounds like an overall toxic environment regardless of the current covid issues.

She should keep her head down, and look for an exit as soon as feasible.

FLBiker

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2020, 10:02:05 AM »
Sounds like an overall toxic environment regardless of the current covid issues.

She should keep her head down, and look for an exit as soon as feasible.
+1

Car Jack

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2020, 07:40:59 AM »
This situation is uncomfortable but not all that bad.

She IS working from home.  Let them taunt her.

When members of the group start to die, point a finger and say "HA HA".

Does she have vacation time saved up?  Use it.  Use it all.  That buys time.

If the manager is getting close to everyone, he'll be dead soon.

All military contractors have anonymous reporting methods.  But that would be a last resort unless it's worded carefully.  The manager will get his hands on the actual complaint, so you'd want it to sound like its coming from a large group inside the facility who has to work.  Maybe sound like a lab tech who is required to be in the building. 

Never, Ever go to HR.  They absolutely are NOT going to help an employee.  You might as well go directly to the manager and complain to his face, because every word that is spoken to HR will absolutely go to the manager who will have free reign to get back at your wife.  (been there....experienced that)

Retire-Canada

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Re: Employer Resisting Social Distancing - What Would You Do?
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2020, 05:54:32 PM »
She IS working from home.  Let them taunt her.

As long as she is being paid and getting to work from home I would let the stupid comments slide with some caveats noted below. It's not ideal, but presumably COVID-19 has made you appreciate you have bigger fish to fry. Stay safe. Save as much $$ as you can. Worry about her progression in the company later on. Depending how things go she may return to a totally different professional landscape than she left or than you are thinking about as you try and solve this. That could render all this moot.

I would document whatever bad behaviour you can. I wouldn't hesitate to say to the offending people [in writing] that they should stop and she is annoyed just so that's on the record as well. Beyond that I would just roll with things and then see what cards she can play on the other side. Unless it's truly abusive/evil shit I'd leave it at that for now.

TheGibberingPotato

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I would love to get some opinions here.

My spouse works for a large government contractor whom most of us have heard of.  The company itself is conservative.  They are deemed essential and are continuing manufacturing.  This is fine, we have no problem with that.  The company is very old fashioned and working from home doesn't happen.  In fact, my spouse was the first person on her team to get a laptop even.

What is concerning is the following:
-My spouses direct manager has allowed work from home as a result of the COVID-19 situation, however he makes fun of her for it, as do her coworkers.
-The manager has created a macho culture where people think you're a wimp if you work from home during the pandemic
-The manager openly expresses disbelief in the severity of the pandemic and ridicules the social distancing efforts
-Recently, the workplace had an employee test positive fro COVID-19.  The person came in to work symptomatic!!!  The company quarantined the persons group, but did not quarantine all individuals that interacted with the person.
-The company does not provide any sort of PPE or sterilization procedures for the work place.
-Although employees are interacting much less, they are not strictly social distancing.
-to be clear, there are plenty of situations where work can be performed from home.  However, the technologists (hourly)  employees do not have this option because they have 100% lab/production work.  The boss and techs feel that it's not fair if everyone else comes in.

How would you handle this?  My spouse is between a rock and a hard place.  To protect herself and society, she should work from home and avoid her coworkers like the plague, since they are acting like idiots and as a result of their actions are at high risk.  However, her boss is in a position of power and is more or less bullying her.

There have been other situations with my spouse's boss, unrelated to COVID-19, that I wont even describe here.  She could try becoming a whistleblower on multiple levels, but that would bring her tremendous stress/etc...

So, I'm just trying to hear opinions on what people would considering doing.  thank you!

*******UPDATE  6/30/2020**********

Information piece one:
Someone in my wife's group came in with COVID, gave it to my wife and another person.  He wasn't wearing a mask, had 'allergies'.  Her boss took no responsibility for the situation.  My wife was sick for about 2 weeks and is now fully recovered.  In other words, exactly what you would expect to happen based on the above post, did in fact happen.  Her work place has had multiple outbreaks.  Some relatives of employees have died.

Information piece two:
The harassment of my wife by her boss has continued, but somehow even got worse.  I'm reluctant to give details, as this is a public forum.  HR has been contacted.  Investigation is in progress.  Hopefully HR will be helpful, though we are aware that it will be his word against hers.  Without giving details, it has gotten to a point where she is starting to feel threatened, so action had to be taken.

BUMP  (see OP)

Retire-Canada

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Wow. Sorry to hear that. I am glad that your wife recovered from COVID okay. Best of luck with the HR process.

FatFI2025

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Point of clarification, did your DW start going back into the office after your first post?

dcheesi

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As much as we might clarification on some of the details, I'd recommend that the OP say as little as possible while the HR process is ongoing. Things can get back to one's employer in various ways, and even innocent misstatements could be problematic.

Shane

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That sucks. Sorry to hear you guys are having to go through this.

Paying to have a consultation with an attorney knowledgeable about employment law in your state might be a good idea. HR is definitely not on your wife's side. They will only be interested in protecting the company from liability. That's their job.

Maenad

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Paying to have a consultation with an attorney knowledgeable about employment law in your state might be a good idea. HR is definitely not on your wife's side. They will only be interested in protecting the company from liability. That's their job.

+1 - get thee to a lawyer. Your wife needs someone who's actually on her side, and HR ain't it.

marty998

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Hmm... In some jurisdictions it's a crime to intentionally infect someone with an infectious disease (HIV, tuberculosis etc).

The Company shouldn't have a leg to stand on here... but this is the world we live in :(


DadJokes

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I agree on getting an attorney knowledgeable in labor laws.

Eurotexan

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Get OSHA involved as she is being forced to work in a hazardous work environment. They have teeth right now and she can remain anonymous. They will likely only require a written response from their employer to her complaint but if they donít like that they will show up to investigate and interview employees. They will find something, they have to once they do an inspection. May not be COVID related but it will be a huge PITA for the employer and will put them on notice.

MayDay

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Get OSHA involved as she is being forced to work in a hazardous work environment. They have teeth right now and she can remain anonymous. They will likely only require a written response from their employer to her complaint but if they donít like that they will show up to investigate and interview employees. They will find something, they have to once they do an inspection. May not be COVID related but it will be a huge PITA for the employer and will put them on notice.

This is a great idea. An employee at my company called OSHA and they came out and inspected promptly.