If you're sick, should you work?

Whatever, I give up,… you guys are SO sure you’re in the right. But I the one whom is un employed to do disablity issues is in the wrong. It doesn’t matter about Op maybe killing people. The problem is that Op was FORCED TO come in to work.

I give up and I’m not responding to another post at all…

Good. Maybe now we can have a constructive discussion.

So, anyone else have thoughts on the legality of showing up to work with COVID and what charges might arise from it?


You’re not the only unemployed one on disability here, though.

I’m on disability. Heck, I make about 860 dollars a month. Not even minimum wage for a part time job there.


Practically speaking none. The burden of proof would be too high to ever prove.

You could bust OP for health code violations sure. Maybe some sort of endangerment charge if you had a prosecutor really looking to make a name. But beyond that to prove criminality you would need to prove

  1. that someone was harmed because of it. Which while maybe very likely to happen in a post-contain pandemic it would be impossible to prove that OP was the source that infected that particular individual

  2. some states require intent for certain charges which again would be a mess to try and prove.

  3. even if those two were proven the idea of infecting someone with a disease you have as a method of assault is questionable. Closest case law I can think of would be some cases where people with AIDS dileberately spread it. But even that precedent isnt 1 to 1 applicable and is on a state to state basis.

Practically its likely a legal non starter


Yeah, that’s the reason why I focused on the health code. Technically those things may or may not be prosecutable, with you simply cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt (at least by criminal court standards, probably by civil court standards as well) that OP is the one that infected everyone. We’re in a pandemic, and the fact that OP may very well not have spread the infection was close to the only valid point the ones supporting them had.

This is actually the reason why I wasn’t upset over the law passed prohibiting suing businesses for giving you covid: those cases would almost certainly not win to begin with, because even in civil court it’s darn near impossible to prove. All it would do is clog up the courts. You see this all the time with cancer lawsuits–you can never actually win a suit about product X giving you cancer, but the ones that do win always involve the manufacturers creating product X withholding knowledge of product X being carcinogenic. This is the same way bad medication suits end up winning too, although in both cases settlements are typically the end result because of the gobs of money involved.


Yeah, I could see it technically falling under “reckless endangerment” but I agree that it’d be unlikely for a prosecutor would pursue it, unless there’s more to the story, like that a lot of people got very sick or died and they were able to tie all of the cases back to that night at that restaurant. Especially considering that the type of people eating in a restaurant in December 2020 were likely exposed elsewhere as well.


Very good points. Though it might be slightly easier given that OP confessed to it on the internet. I doubt the police would take the time to trace it back to the source (they’d only do that if the OP confessed to giving a cop COVID), but it is technically possible.

Maybe it would be more useful to pass laws aimed at the employer. For instance, if X number of their employees got COVID, then they could be investigated for unsafe work practices.


The confession would prove intent, which depending on the state might make it prosecutable as reckless endangerment. The problem is that cases where intentionally exposing others to life-threatening diseases out of spite is actually prosecuted are pretty much limited to HIV, which in most cases is a lot easier to track, since it’s only spread in specific circumstances. You’d have an almost impossible time proving beyond a reasonable doubt that OP actually was the one who spread the illness; basically, you’d need to point out that OP specifically infected each individual victim, which is almost impossible to do with a disease that spreads the way Covid does.

The key phrase here, though, is beyond a reasonable doubt; there’s very little doubt that OP spread the infection here to at least someone in that restaurant, but that’s not enough for a court of law. I mean, you can present a case in court where the defendant is obviously guilty, but if the evidence cannot eliminate any and all reasonable doubt, you’re still going to lose.


I believe you should not work if you are sick. However, my beliefs do not always come across in the real world. Corporations (especially in the USA) make it really difficult to get time off for even basic things, let alone sick days. Many of them have a very (stupid) system where PTO is slowly built after working so many hours. I have had to fight for my right to take my own PTO (not even sick time; vacation time!)

Some thoughts here.

  1. Should the OP have gone in? No given the exposure and the doctor’s order.
  2. Was she in a probationary period? Maybe which means you can be let go for any reason and some bosses refuse to accept doctor’s orders (thankfully my jobs have always asked for a doctor’s note once I came back).
  3. What is the age of the OP? OP strikes me as young and that this was their first job. They may not have had the shiny spine to say no.
  4. What did the boss say? Did the boss say: “I don’t care if you have a doctor’s note. If you don’t come in you’re fired”?
  5. Income levels. Could the OP currently be the sole breadwinner in the family due to the rest having to isolate? Some families require all those of age to work in order to just stay afloat (and are possibly in poverty still with that).

You’re 2nd, 3rd and 5th things are what I been trying to say this whole time. And the story took place either in Florida or Texas where indoor dinning was a thing in Dec 2020 and for Florida at least the governor “wouldn’t allow school-age children weren’t allowed to wear mask” and school age children wearing masks after school at work depended on the location.

For the fourth point when the story was up that OP’s boss said “unless YOU tested positive for (contagious illness) she was to COME IN to work” despite the fact OP had a different sickiness (bronchitis) which could be a symptom of Covid. They didn’t care that Op’s parents’ doctor(s) said all people in one house needed to quartine.

PS are you saying in your post with some of your points that maybe OP was in a Catch-22 situation?

What are you thoughts about what could happen if she did option 6 and called the Health Department which some had suggested? Personally I think OP could have been fired for that, but I want to know your opinion.

But people’s problem is that OP literally said in the story that OP “maliciously complied” and “seemed almost gleeful that she might have killed people” That’s what their problem is. No OP shouldn’t have gone in but as I think you’re saying she was in a catch-22 situation for a number of reasons it’s her first job, she’s on probation, or the family has a bad income…

Story goes something like this:
“My parents both come down positive for Contagious illness The next day I come down with bronchitis and when I tried to call in sick my boss said “UNLESS YOU TEST POSTIVE FOR CONTAGIOUS ILLNESS YOU’RE TO COME INTO WORK!” Despite my parents’ doctor’s order saying everyone in the house has to quartine. So I maliciously complied and went into work. Five days later so many workers had gotten sick that the business had to close down for a some days”

Others whom had actually read the story -am I missing any detail in the story?

Celoptra, let me explain something to you on what a post like Keiko’s is actually saying. Sorry if I’m sounding harsh, I’m not trying to be. I’m simply hoping to shed some light on why your response is missing Keiko’s point.

Point 1 is saying that even with points 2, 3, 4 and 5, OP should have stayed home.

Points 2, 3, 4 and 5 are possible reasons why point one was ignored. They don’t replace point 1, nor so they excuse it. They merely add complexity to it. Point 1 remains valid, and you can’t address their response without factoring it into your response. To do so is a practice known as cherry picking; it’s considered bad form in discussion, and in journalism it’s a major breach of ethics.

Now with OP’s admission that they went in as a form of malicious compliance, point 3 is refuted. As a deliberate act of defiance (which malicious compliance is), spinelessness is clearly not an issue. Those who obey out of fear are not doing so out of malice.

The alternative is they did do so out of fear, but chose to describe it online as being out of malice; this is an ego issue that makes OP unsympathetic–they would rather be seen as someone who is malicious and spiteful than someone who is young and afraid. OP’s own words made themselves the villain of their own story.


Which part of this makes going in to work more defensible? Your description of events makes OP sound terrible, just like their story does. The OP’s boss can’t force them to come in to work, they can just punish them for not doing so and that doesn’t make going into work with covid defensible.


Stop using WHOM. it’s who tor most of the times you use whom. I’ve given you links three times to help you learn how to use it. I know you can learn. Go back to the link I gave you and learn something.

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IMO what the op did in that story was no better than someone let’s say having a few because they had the night off and then the boss called them because someone called out and they were short staffed. The boss says you come in or you’re fired. The person believes they are fine to drive and they don’t want to loss their job. The person drives buzzed which is no better than driving drunk gets into an accident and kills people because they care more about their well being and not losing their job than anyone else.

Sorry if it’s not really clear or there’s any typos. Just got back from the new kids concert and I’m trying to wind down. This probably is NOT the best way to do it haha. Had a great time though.


I think it would be easier to prove if there was a record of the conversation OP had with the boss, maybe not for actual murder charges since you’d have to prove individual cases but some kind of endangerment charge.

In Germany it is punishable up to 250 000€, or even prison, if you go out, even though you’ve been ordered to quarantine. In the beginning of the pandemic, they phoned/made house calls on people in quarantine just to make sure they were there. Theoretically I wouldn’t even be allowed to take the trash out if it happened to me.

I am very opposed to people going to work sick, and all of my bosses have been too. Logically all bosses should be, even if they aren’t out of empathy. If 1 person calls in sick, it’s 1 person they need to find a replacement for. If that person goes to work and other people get sick because of that, the number of people needing to be replaced is much higher.

In Germany there is no thing like sick days. If you’re sick, you’re sick. Most companies want to see a sick note from day 3. If you’re sick for a long time, you get 90% of your netto salary for 6 weeks, payed by the employer. After week 6, you get “sick money” from your health insurance, it’s either 90% netto or 80% brutto if I remember it correctly.

If you’re ordered to quarantine because of covid, you get 100%. My boss always warns us not to get a sick slip during quarantine, because we’d lose money :stuck_out_tongue:


Hate to do this since it’s off topic and I hate going off topic, but it keeps coming up: OP’s situation isn’t a catch-22.

A catch-22 is a recursive dilemma. Basically, you have two choices, but each choice requires the other choice to work. Example (and note that it’s just that): “I need a better-paying job so I can afford college, but all the jobs that pay what I need require college degrees.” This is a catch-22.

What OP has is two choices with no good outcome–a Cornelian dilemma. However, the dilemma here boils down to OP choosing between following the doctor’s orders and risking losing their job, or following the boss’s orders and risking spreading a potentially deadly illness. This isn’t a catch-22, because it isn’t recursive–choice A can be done without requiring choice B to be done first, and vice-versa.

Now since I hate topic derailment, I’m going to sum up the situation as I see it.

OP has a sickness that involves a fever as well as horrible coughs. At the same time, OP’s parents have tested possible for another, far more serious disease that also has these same symptoms–not a good sign for OP’s health. OP and their parents are ordered by a doctor to quarantine. OP calls work and explains this, and is told to come into work sick unless they test positive.

Quick note: we can reasonably assume from this info that OP is living with their parents. We can assume nothing else about their home situation from this however–OP has not elaborated further. Since nothing in the story suggests either extreme poverty or decent wealth/savings, financial hardship due to parents’ time off work, the existence or absence of mortgages or rent, or any other factors affecting the financial consequences of losing a likely well below minimum wage job, we can’t really factor these into OP’s actions or motivations.

What we do know is this: in OP’s own words, they went to work sick out of “malicious compliance.” That’s the exact term they used. OP also states that a very large portion of the restaurant’s employees came down with the more serious illness within the reasonable timeframe for OP to have been the source. And the restaurant had to close as a result.

It’s reasonable to assume OP may not have been paid while the restaurant was down either. It’s also reasonable to assume from the story’s details that OP handled food while sick, likely violating their state’s health code.

OP made the ethically wrong choice. They not only likely ended up without income for some time, they deprived others of their own income and health. And they probably broke the law in the process. Had OP not come in, they likely would have been out of a job and out of income for some time–making them no worse off than they were with the choice they made–but others likely would have kept their health and own incomes.

What OP did made no real difference to their situation, but it did put others in the same situation, something that would not have happened if they had stayed home.

A quick edit: I should point out that it would have been reasonable for OP to suspect that them coming in might cause the restaurant to close. Not just from infecting others either–health inspectors do not always schedule inspections, and if they had walked in while OP was hacking their lungs out and handling food, the restaurant may have been forced to close to decontaminate. Futhermore, this very well could have led to OP losing their food handling license, if their state requires it–which would mean they would very likely also lose their job. This is close to being a Morton’s Fork dilemma, where both choices have the same outcome–it’s only close, however, because one choice’s outcome has far more wide-reaching consequences. Ethically speaking, if faced with such a choice, you should always choose the one that would cause the least potential negative consequences–OP didn’t do this; they picked the choice with the most potential negative consequences.


OP specifically chose to mention that that they maliciously complied, instead of something to the vein of “I feared losing my job” or “I couldn’t afford to lose my job” so I’m inclined to believe that those weren’t a factor.


Sorry folks but I have to question the value of further debate on this subject. Everybody but Celoptra seems to agree that despite the potential threat to their employment that the OP should not have gone to work.

By now it is evident that Celoptra does not agree and that they are not open to persuasion on the subject. Obviously there is significant disagreement with their position on this (quite rightly, IMO) but rather that continue to explain why they are wrong when it is clear that they will never accept this perhaps the less frustrating option would be to take a deep breath and move on with your lives?


@PotatoPercy Can we put this thread to sleep please? I do agree with the above sentiment.