He Was Contagiously Sick When His Boss Forced Him To Come To Work

This was about 10 years ago. At the time I was with my ex-partner, who worked at a petrol station chain in Australia. He came down sick with gastro which is a highly infectious illness resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, etc.

My ex notified his manager on Tuedays night that he wouldn’t be able to make his shift the following morning, as he was vomiting copiously still and assumed he would still be by then. His manager replied that he had to contact other workers to get his shift covered- a dick move, but not illegal. My ex spends about an hour trying to get someone to cover for him, with no success. He lets his manager know, who responds with “You had better show up for your shift, or you’re fired, doesn’t matter if you’re sick.” His manager had a habit of doing this. He recently had made someone work while they had conjunctivitis (extremely contagious) and someone comes in for their shift after they had been in the hospital that day after having an asthma attack.

The following day, my ex went to work. Note that his job also involved food handling as they had a bread store at the petrol station. So people would come in to pay for their petrol, get a coffee and a donut/pie/cake. While handing a customer their cake, he pauses and vomits into a nearby hand washing sink. During his shift, he continues to handle food and go to the toilet regularly because of diarrhea.

When my ex gets home, I ask if he had been unwell and he confirmed he continued to be sick while at work. I am absolutely furious that he was threatened with job loss and most likely has spread his illness to a bunch of other people. So I can see the health board of my state and report it. The board sends out someone on a surprise visit to the site and turns out there are lots of bad food handling and hygiene practices going on, not just the worker’s illness issues.

The company ended up being fined $150,000 and had to make significant changes to how some things were run. As for the manager, turns out the whole ‘show up even if you’re sick or you’re fired’ policy wasn’t exactly the company line, and he got his ass handed to him over it.

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