our boss will fire us if we don’t sign up to be a liver donor for his brother

A reader writes:

I have a situation that is so out there I almost wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t happening to me. The company I work at has three branches and around 100 employees. The owner of the company has a brother who needs a liver transplant. Two weeks ago, a company-wide memo went out that all employees would be required to undergo testing to see if they were a suitable liver donor for the owners brother. No exceptions.

Last week at the branch the owner works out of most of the time, his assistant went around to schedule days off for everyone so they could go get tested. People who declined were let go. One of these people was born with liver disease and therefore ineligible to donate. She had a doctor’s note. Other people also had medical reasons as well and some were just uncomfortable with the request and didn’t want to do it. One was pregnant. They were still terminated. My employer’s assistant has said that because our employment is at will, he can legally fire us.

I’m in remission from cancer. I’m ineligible to donate and any kind of surgery would put a major strain on my system. Even if I was healthy, I would still object to possibly being forced into donating an organ just to keep my job. Soon they will be scheduling people’s days off for testing at my branch.

I know this situation is nuts, but I don’t know what to do. I know I could just go for the testing and then be declined, but I don’t think I should have to do that. I’ve had enough with hospitals. Other coworkers who don’t have medical conditions are afraid they won’t be declined because they will be a match. I’m looking for another job but in the meantime I don’t know what to do and I and many of my coworkers are really stressed out.

What the actual F.

He’s firing people who don’t want to sign up to donate part of their liver?

Your boss is both an absolute loon and an incredible jerk.

He’s also not very smart, since doctors won’t accept organ donations from people who aren’t willingly and happily volunteering, so all of this ridiculousness will be for nothing.

But let’s talk legality. I showed your letter to employment attorney Bryan Cavanaugh and asked him to weigh in. He says:

This employer is violating the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The ADA’s purpose is broader than just protecting individuals with disabilities from unlawful discrimination and requiring employers to offer individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations to perform the essential functions of their jobs. The ADA also prohibits employers from requiring employees to submit to medical examinations and medical inquiries, unless those medical examinations and medical inquiries are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

In this case, the employer’s requirement to undergo a medical examination (and presumably to undergo further medical procedures if the employee is a good match) has nothing to do with the business. It has nothing to do with the operations of the company and the employees’ ability to perform their jobs. Therefore, the employer is violating the federal ADA (and probably other state and local laws) by requiring employees to undergo this testing (which is not job-related and not consistent with business necessity) and by terminating the employment of those who refuse.

So to our ongoing list of your boss’s characteristics, which currently includes loon, jerk, and not smart, you can add law-breaker.

As for what to do, you could have a lawyer explain this to your employer on your behalf, and/or file a complaint with the EEOC, the federal agency that enforces the ADA. (Note that you have to file it within 180 days from the violation.)

But I’d also start job searching. Even if this gets quickly settled, you’re working with someone who has such a skewed idea of the employment relationship that he thinks he has say over your internal organs. Get out get out get out.

Note: This situation is so outrageous that it occurred to me to wonder whether the letter is real or not. At this point, I’ve received so many credible stories of outrageous behavior by employers that I’m willing to believe it and I’m treating it as genuine (and the letter-writer included a note to me outside the letter here that makes me think it’s real), but the reality is that I have no way of knowing. Letter-writer, assuming you are real, take this as a measure of how messed up the situation is. Commenters, I’m requesting that we not get derailed by debates about veracity. Thanks!

{ 868 comments… read them below or add one }

          1. Kristin (Germany)

            This situation is so effed up that I am going to comment on the only thing that I can while staying within the rational world: yes, that is a real punctuation mark that is really called an interrobang. It can be used as in the following example: What the hell is that lunatic employer thinking?!

            Reply
            1. Anna

              I’m relieved to know that it’s an actual thing and that I haven’t been committing punctuation perfidy for the better part of my life. Having said that, I hate what it’s called.

              Reply
              1. Liz in a Library

                I love the interrobang! And it’s the perfect name for something that’s half interrogative and half bang.

                …I may or may not be part of a trivia group called Interrobang?!.

                Reply
            2. Sarah from Long Island

              (Today I learned)…. Well, I use this combination of punctuation often.. Probably more frequently than I should. I did NOT know that it is really a legitimate punctuation… with a real NAME! Interrobang. I must remember this…. (Hey hippocampus, you hear me up there?) Kind poster, thank you for tickling my dendrites today :O)

              Reply
              1. WorkingMom

                Is it one symbol? Or is “?!” acceptable punctuation? I’m fascinated by this, because I use it casually all the time, but never thought it was legitimate.

                Reply
                1. Rana

                  It’s one symbol, but in practice most of the time it’s just written as a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point – “?!” – because it’s easier to write and type that way. And, yes, it is absolutely an acceptable way to punctuate a sentence expressing incredulity.

                2. Tui

                  The interrobang is great and good in social contexts and in that sense it’s a “real thing” but it’s not a standard punctuation mark. ?! and !? are also fairly non-standard uses (in other words, I don’t consider them to be “good” grammar in contexts where “good” grammar is determined by prescriptivists).

          2. E, F and G

            Very much a word. Lost a game of word pyramid because of that symbol. And haven’t forgotten it since.

            But it fits my mood right now perfectly. Wow.

            Reply
      1. Message for the LW

        I’m not the LW, but I am a cancer survivor and I have a message for the LW:

        I know it’s hard. Dealing with cancer is tough enough without having to stress about things going on at your job. Don’t feel bad for being stressed out. It’s okay if you are feeling reluctant about complaining to HR (if there is one) or going to the media, as people here have suggested. It’s good advice and the same advice I would give, along with talking to a lawyer, but I know it’s easy for us to say and it feels totally different when it’s happening to you. Whatever happens and whether you decide to go to the media or not, please look after yourself. I wish you well on your recovery.

        Reply
    1. Navy Vet

      Wow. I can’t even with this guy.

      Can I just say that this man is clearly off his rocker and seems to think an employment agreement/contract is equivalent to owning his employees.

      Besides the obvious (Or at least I feel it should be) questionable choice to force your employees to give your brother part of their liver. Let’s talk about the fact that they are being essentially forced to disclose medical information to their employer. And the obvious lack of any reasonableness. (side note, there is no way this is reasonable. At all. even a little bit.)I mean, he fired a pregnant woman for not agreeing to donate a part of her liver. You know, while she is pregnant. With a baby. And someone who has liver disease. (And a DR note). He fired someone for saying they didn’t want to donate part of their faulty liver to his brother. (Not trying to be crude, but that’s essentially what it is) These are clear indications that he has lost his Mother F-ing mind. you owe him nothing.

      I think you know you need to run.

      Also, Alison…when the LW is looking for the new job how open can she be about why she left? I mean, I worry that if she gave a short version of this, it’s sooooo insane that someone would do this, that while we give her the benefit of the doubt, her interviewer may not.

      Reply
      1. WorkingMom

        Great question! I can just imagine the conversation in a future interview.
        “So, tell me why you are leaving Teapots, Inc?”
        “Well, my employer required me to give up my liver.”

        Reply
        1. Snazzy Hat

          I think that could work, considering my reaction as interviewer would probably be a wide-eyed stare, a few seconds of silence, and quietly saying, “moving along…” so we never have to bring it up again.

          Reply
    2. Vicki

      I sincerely hope that the OP does file the grievance and bring in an attorney. The fired employees should get unfired so that they are employed while they job-search.

      (Yes, they can get unemployment. But, speaking as someone who has been on unemployment, real employment pays a lot better.)

      Reply
      1. Jim

        It also would have been satisfying to convince everyone to refuse and see if they would actually fire the entire company for refusing to comply.

        Reply
    3. Charles R Batchelor

      Sounds like a nice class-action lawsuit. I would file with the EEOC and have my lawyer talk to all the other fired employees, all of them.

      Reply
    4. Etgesis

      Compensation for an organ transplant is a crime.

      That has been missed.

      The employer has missed that his coercion has made the fired people victims of a conspiracy to coerce organ donation.

      A federal felony.

      Reply
    1. AMG

      I can only imagine what the rest of the year holds, but this guy would be pretty hard pressed to lose the ‘Worst Boss of 2016’ award.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        There pretty much can’t be any worse behavior by a job than requiring people to risk their lives and give up part of an organ to keep their job. What could be worse than this?

        Reply
        1. Alter_ego

          Maybe he gets a lifetime achievement award and is taken out of the running to be fair to the other contenders?

          Reply
          1. Corporate Cynic

            And similar to the Oscars, before presenting it they can first show the audience a montage of clips from his most “distinguished work.” It sounds like they’ll have an ample body of it to choose from…

            Reply
        2. Meg Murry

          I think you might need to do stacked ranking, where you can vote for your numbers 1 through whatever, because there have been so many crazies.

          Can we do hashtags here? If so, I’m dropping this one so I can find this post at the end of the year #worstbossoftheyear2016nominee

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            “Sorry, Boss Who Called Employee’s Mom, I’d give you an Exceeds Expectations, but this liver guy is screwing up the curve.”

            (Disclaimer: I don’t remember if that’s even a real letter from this year. I just know it’s a letter that happened sometime and was trying to think of a bad but less-bad boss.)

            Reply
            1. Meg Murry

              Or maybe there needs to be a special category: terrible bosses who are actually doing illegal things vs terrible bosses who are just horrible people

              Reply
              1. OhNo

                Now there’s a thought. At least that way we can cut the outliers from the running early.

                Otherwise, man. I feel like this guy deserves to win for about five years in a row just for this one act of awfulness.

                Reply
              2. Serafina

                Ooh, I vote for that! Subcategories of “Terrible.” Like:

                “Just your average jerk” – for mean, rude, micromanaging but-not-illegal employers
                “Outlaws” – the ones who break the law

                Reply
      2. Nina

        For me, he’s neck and neck with the “doggy office” post. Remember the OP who was severely allergic and then found out everyone was basically conspiring against her to be fired?

        Reply
      3. many bells down

        I mean, I know we say that about someone every month or so, but … this guy is SO FAR OUT THERE. Having a boss want you to change your name from “King” is small potatoes compared to a boss that will fire you if you don’t give up internal organs.

        Reply
      4. Professional Sweater Folder

        I think boss who interrupts his employee during chemo sessions has given this a run for its money.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          Ditto. Alison has said before she doesn’t deliberately do it, and doesn’t want to encourage the concept because it could make some OPs uncomfortable.

          I thought it was funny when it first came up. But it’s Not A Thing, she’s trying to keep it Not A Thing, and bringing it up again just feels – wrong. Also, it turns out that while amusing, I get tired of it eventually. :)

          We’ve seen plenty of WTF on every day of the week over the years, I think. :)

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            “We’ve seen plenty of WTF on every day of the week over the years, I think. :)”

            Definitely. It’s like that old “celebrities die in threes” thing. It’s really just a matter of how you notice them.

            Reply
          2. Nina

            Same. Allison has said numerous times that WTF Wednesday isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a thing but it keeps getting mentioned.

            Reply
    2. Shell

      Yeah, this. I thought some of Alison’s previous posts were hard to top, but this. Wow. Wow.

      ‽‽‽‽‽‽

      ?!?!?!?!

      Reply
    3. Nerdling

      I can’t even be mad because I’m impressed with the level of stupidity and insanity going on here.

      OP, I wish you a lot of luck with this situation. It’s another stressor that you just don’t need right now, and I’m sorry you’ve found yourself caught up in it.

      Reply
    1. LawCat

      I feel terrible for those let go. I feel terrible for the brother. I feel terrible for the people who will be let go because the company will have huge legal liability payouts and has to lay people off.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Oh that poor brother. “Hey, Brother, I found you an organ donor. Yeah. I told my employees, cough it up or lose a job….. what do you mean you are mad at me? I don’t get it.”

        Reply
    2. My 2 Cents

      I don’t feel bad for those who were let go, they just got out from under a total lunatic and will have an easy to win lawsuit settlement coming their way, score!

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        And, for a bonus, it’s something they can afford to bring down on the employer, because _who in their right mind_ would be concerned about an employee who brought a suit when they were let go for _refusing to donate their liver to the boss’s brother_?

        Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        I feel bad for the people who are still there, because if the OP and her fired colleagues find a lawyer, that company is going to go under.

        Reply
        1. OhNo

          I just feel bad for everybody in this situation. The ones who got fired, the ones who have to stay (because I can’t imagine any of them would stay on willingly after this), the brother… Even the boss himself.

          I mean, the boss is clearly operating out in left field somewhere, because this is beyond the pale. But I can certainly understand the urge to try and save someone you love by whatever means necessary.

          Reply
          1. babblemouth

            There is a special kind of desperation that comes with the reality that one’s loved one is dying, which leads a lot of people to do a lot of stupid and outrageous stuff. [Half of Hollywood films are based on the trope “I don’t care what happens to anyone else, I will save my own.”]

            So I can kinda see where this guy’s line of thought started… but then to take it all the way to where he went is just terrible.

            Reply
    3. fposte

      I also feel kind of bad for the boss’s brother. I doubt he’s countenancing these shenanigans in his name.

      Reply
        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          As someone who was raised in the same house with my brother, I take exception to the implication. :-)

          Reply
  1. Mike C.

    Ok, can we now recommend that this employer be named in a safe, anonymous way? Or that this story be brought to local or internet media? Have we finally crossed that line where this needs to get out?

    He’s also not very smart, since doctors won’t accept organ donations from people who aren’t willingly and happily volunteering, so all of this ridiculousness will be for nothing.

    Yeah, there are laws against this sort of thing in the United States so in addition to all the other ADA stuff, authorities should be notified. I’m pretty sure any number of DAs would just love to prosecute what amounts to an organ trafficking case. It’s an election year, after all…

    Reply
      1. Yggdrasil

        Not our call, but…

        OP, for your own good and that of your fellow man/woman, please go to the media and nail this guy’s hide to the wall. If anyone deserves it, it’s him.

        Reply
            1. Katie the Fed

              yes, and there are legal avenues to take to address that. It’s not as though publicity is the only way to resolve this.

              Reply
            1. No longer new commenter

              If Boss + Brother are willing to do this, they may well be capable of even more unsavory acts to get what they want. My concern here is that this family, if not outed, might attempt to obtain an organ via physical violence. I imagine they would need to leave the country and hire out help to do this, but someone should be keeping an eye on them.

              Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        And I should add — I totally support that. I just don’t love seeing letter-writers subjected to “you need to do this,” when we’re not the ones who will have to deal with possible short-term consequences to our livelihoods.

        Reply
        1. AMG

          The good news is that OP should be fairly anonymous since it impacts the entire office. Perhaps one of the already-fired employees would be willing to go to the media? I am not you, but nobody would have to ask me twice. You have my very sincere sympathy.

          Reply
          1. JMegan

            The entire office is only 100 people, though. Assuming a relatively even split between the branches, that’s 33 people per office, and only staff from one office have been fired so far. There’s anonymous and there’s anonymous, but those numbers are getting too small for my taste.

            OP, you have my sympathies. You’re in an awful situation, regardless of what happens with this employer – I hope you can find a way to get out soon.

            Reply
            1. Bookworm

              Plus OP mentioned she’s in remission from cancer. If any of her coworker were aware of that condition, it will narrow the list pretty fast.

              Reply
              1. AMG

                that’s true. But if she is tipping off the press, she doesn’t need to mention her own health or which office she’s in.

                Reply
          2. Not So NewReader

            I hope one of the former employees goes to the cops. I am not familiar enough with the laws on organ harvesting, but this employer thinks he is running an organ farm, not a business. I hope someone, like a JUDGE, explains this to the employer.

            Reply
        2. Mike C.

          But the people like me who are advocating stuff like this have dealt with similar things like this in our own lives. Yes, in my case it wasn’t organ trafficking, but unlike the OP I wasn’t able to be anonymous.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            What would the OP’s goal in going to the media be? It’s a 100 person company, and an anonymous tip may not even end in media coverage. It’s possible that the business will get some negative coverage and, if it does, it’s possible that that will affect the business’s sales. It’s also possible that neither of those things will happen, or that if they do more people who haven’t found jobs yet will be let go.

            I don’t think the OP has an obligation to keep quiet, but I also don’t think she’s obligated to shout it from the rooftops.

            Reply
            1. MC

              One possible outcome is that a lawfirm hears about it, takes on the employment case (possibly pro-bono) and gets them either re-hired or files a wrongful termination suit.

              Reply
              1. Colette

                Sure, but the OP is still employed, so that is of no benefit to her at this point. And terminated employees can approach law firms if they wish to do so without going to the media.

                I mean, if the OP wants to go to the media, she can do so, but there’s not much in it for her.

                Reply
                1. animaniactoo

                  There’s not having to face taking a day off to go to a medical facility when they have said they would like to run screaming from the very idea after all they have been through.

                  There’s not *being* fired if they don’t want to when their turn comes around.

                2. Mike C.

                  there’s not much in it for her

                  We’re a society, and there are times when people must come forward lest bad actors continue to do harm. In this specific case, this can be done very easily and very quietly.

                  This sort of attitude leads to very bad ends and I hope you reconsider the ramifications.

                3. Colette

                  @animaniactoo How will going to the media prevent either of those two outcomes?

                  @Mike C. What outcomes would you expect if the OP makes an anonymous tip to the media? How will they improve the world?

                  In my experience, the person who will make and carry out this kind of threat is unlikely to care what people think of them, and as I mentioned earlier, I’m not convinced an anonymous tip will significantly affect the business enough to get the boss to change his mind but not so much that people who need their jobs don’t lose them.

                4. Mike C.

                  Outcomes?

                  Short term – shaming this boss into stopping this policy now and hiring back those who were let go. Drawing the attention to medical and legal professionals who can pursue further action as warranted.

                  Long term – Organ donation organizations will have the chance to take this example and show that this is crazy and educate people as to how organ donation should be handled. Showing employers who need the reminder that there are lines between the professional and personal world, and those lines need to be respected. Also reiterating that one simply doesn’t “own” their employees simply because they sign a paycheck.

                5. Ron Skurat

                  well, yes, someone still employed wouldn’t really have the same standing as a fired employee; a lazy judge might even dismiss the case.

            2. Mike C.

              Because if we as a society are going to subscribe to the idea that there is a free market for employment where employees and employers make joint decisions to start employment, there cannot be information asymmetry. Employers like this should be exposed so that they do not make gains from their crazy antics and as a warning to others.

              When we decide instead to keep everything quiet and never allow information to get out, bad actors continue to act badly to the detriment of society as a whole. Now obviously this one situation will not make or break the entire system of employment but if the identity of someone trying to traffic in organs isn’t worthy of public notice, then who is?

              Reply
            3. Master Bean Counter

              Well the OP could gain credibility for why she left the nut house… Nobody would ague after such a news story.

              Reply
              1. Jersey's Mom

                To be a whistleblower is a very difficult decision. Think of some of the whistleblowers of the past — some ended up in a decent job, some ended up essentially broke. Some companies won’t hire a whistleblower regardless of the reason why the whistle was blown.

                The OP has a lot of issues to deal with now — while we’d all like to think that OP would come out of this smelling like a rose with a better job and higher pay, the reality is that OP would likely have a ton of stress (legalese/government issues, media, ticked-off boss, possibly ticked-off co-workers, etc) and that, on top of any health or financial issues (from no paycheck/no health insurance) could cause the OP long term problems.

                And nothing is ever 100% confidential when it comes to whistle blowing.

                Reply
                1. Rafe

                  All of this is very possible. On top of that: If the press is the way the whistleblower goes, no one has really any control (except the news outlet) about what the story is shaped like and how the OP and her coworkers are portrayed. In real life, very few people like how the press winds up covering them (unless it’s a total puff piece).

                2. Anna

                  This isn’t the kind of whistleblowing you’re thinking of, I think. The biggest risk to the employee in this case is losing their job, which is a pretty low threshold. The whistleblowers you’re thinking of had a hard time finding work in their industry because they reported on things that were part of the culture of the industry. Not same same. I can’t think of a single situation where this OP went to the media and said “The person who runs this business has forced his employees to go through liver donation medical test at the risk of being fired” and other companies thinking they shouldn’t hire her because well, she’ll report them for doing something crazy.

            4. James M

              The goal would be to serve the greater good by not withholding evidence of a crime from law enforcement. Keeping this a secret would, in my mind, make me an accessory to a serious crime — human organ trafficking. For the same reason I wouldn’t want to sell my internal organs to the individual, I also wouldn’t want to go to prison on conspiracy charges when he is prosecuted and witnesses have to explain why they protected him and refused to report the crime.

              Reply
        3. Sarahnova

          Yes, seconded. I don’t really feel it’s any different to the people who get self-righteous about ‘you need to report it’ with people who have been raped. The person breaking the law bears the responsibility for any harm, not the OP.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            I’m certainly not blaming the OP for any harm being done, but there’s a huge difference between having to deal with a rape kit and the public shame that faces any public victim of rape and making an anonymous phone call to the media/doctors/legal authorities.

            Reply
              1. neverjaunty

                To be fair to Mike C., I think it’s also pretty jacked up to compare people with jerk bosses to rape survivors.

                Reply
                1. Observer

                  Except that this guy actually goes beyond “jerk”. He is trying to COERCE people into acts that are seriously dangerous to them. So, he’s not the guy who bashes someone over the head and then does his thing. But, he’s the guy who corners his secretary and tells her that she’ll never get a job in this industry if she doesn’t cooperate.

                  I do have to say that never thought I would see a workplace situation that could REMOTELY be compared to rape at any level. The fact that this conversation could actually be happening is just unspeakable.

              2. M

                (I think Mike is doing the opposite of that? I think he’s saying that he is sympathetic to women who choose not to report, but still advocates that OP make an anonymous tip about their employer.)

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Whereas I’m reading it as suggesting he knows the experience of both enough to compare, and I’m skeptical.

                2. my two cents

                  I read it the same as you, M – he was saying that this is a very minor action to ‘force’ onto someone, as compared to (the obviously NOT okay) compelling someone into reporting a sexual assault. Sarahnova was the first to draw the comparison, and Mike was responding. I don’t like the comparison myself, but I think Mike phrased it as “correctly” (appropriately?) as one could.

            1. Observer

              You keep on insisting that the OP can be anonymous. That’s not necessarily true. You also keep on insisting that the OP can do this cost free. That’s not necessarily true, either.

              The OP is the only one who knows what the potential consequences are. And, as much as I think that it would be an excellent thing if she went to the EEOC – who WILL take the case and / or tip off the press, it really is not fair to push this on her. She’s facing enough trouble as it is.

              Reply
          2. Mazzy

            Wait, what? How is it self-righteous to tell someone to report a crime? Does this refer to a past conversation here? I’m confused.

            Reply
      3. Mike C.

        If the ethical situation is bad enough it’s certainly our call to make. We’re talking about an employer that is forcing people to donate their organs*, how bad does a workplace situation have to be before it’s not ok to say anything to anyone? Especially in a case where it’s trivially easy not to be exposed – lots of folks already fired and doctors are required to keep these issues private?

        I’m not saying that the OP should burn the place down, what I am saying is that when you see bad shit happening, you do something about it if you’re able. It’s basic ethics.

        Reply
        1. Juli G.

          But how do you know OP is able? They’re in remission for cancer. They might have hundreds of thousands in unpaid medical bills. We don’t know.

          I could do this. I have very little debt outside my mortgage. If I lost my home, I have supportive family with space to take me, my husband, and children. I’m in good health so I could deal with high deductible insurance or no insurance.

          I have no clue what any other commenter or posters life reality is so no, we do not get a vote on whether they out their employer.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            Because all it takes is an anonymous phone call or email. To a media outlet. To the doctor’s office. To the police. That’s it. I’m not saying to march in the streets or stage a strike, I’m simply saying to drop a dime on this whole thing. It’s so terribly egregious that once authorities know about it the rest of it will be taken care of.

            Reply
          2. JoJo

            Actually, IIRC, insurance companies don’t pay for organ donation costs. Is the boss going to pay for everything, and give the donor several months off to recover, or is he planning to fire the donor as soon as the surgery is over?

            Reply
              1. Stick'em with the pointy end

                “The surgery is scheduled for early in the morning . . . I’ll expect you back at your desk no later than 12 noon.”

                Reply
              2. Three Thousand

                Or “My boss took a piece of my liver and then fired me when he got it so he wouldn’t have to give me medical leave.” That’s Walter White petty evil right there.

                Reply
            1. Jillociraptor

              Usually, the recipient’s insurance pays, but it’s not guaranteed, and there can be lots of logistical challenges since the donor isn’t actually insured by the company.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                And they’re not covered by FMLA, so it’s at the employer’s discretion whether they get extended leave.

                Reply
          3. Kyrielle

            Agreed. My hope here is that one of the employees will report it / file against them, because out of that many employees…the odds that one or more can afford to are pretty high. (Especially the ones already fired, because what do they have left to lose there anyway? I feel like this is one of those cases where even the “and you’ll be known for suing your employer” part doesn’t apply, because seriously, this is so over the top no future employer is likely to worry about the person having sued over it!)

            Reply
          4. Artemesia

            The OP has an easy out since she cannot donate — she could go do the testing and be rejected. The same with the pregnant employee and those with other health issues. But that of course isn’t the point. This is evil stuff regardless and should result in lawsuits and penalties and perhaps prosecution of the boss. I would think ‘do this illegal thing or I will fire you’ might rise to the level of criminal behavior.

            Reply
            1. Mephyle

              Yes, what’s more, even requiring (or us asking) OP to go through with the testing is onerous on her. She mentioned that she is Has Had Enough of being tested and prodded. To make her go through with this unnecessary test just to prove that she can’t donate is small potatoes compared with the outrageousness of making employees donate an organ, but it is still adding insult to injury.

              Reply
              1. Rana

                Plus that one employee had a clear doctor’s note saying “this cannot be done” and the boss still fired them. I can totally imagine the OP getting fired for having an ineligible liver even if they did manage to do the testing.

                Reply
              2. many bells down

                Yeah, I have to have lots of regular medical tests – I just had a PET scan this morning! And I am a fainter, so my regular quota of needles is stressful enough without me taking on more (in)voluntary tests.

                Reply
        2. A Cita

          I’m not always big on outing, but in this instance I have to agree. Not just to stop the practice. But this guy is basically engaging in illegal organ trafficking. The ethics violations, as well as the legal ones, are enormous. He needs to be sent to prison, not just shut down.

          Bias: this is a pretty big deal for me as I work in medical anthro an see the consequences of this kind of action. It’s horrible.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, this is looking like organ trafficking to me, too. Just an idea to kick around, OP. Sometimes when we know we have a card up our sleeve it’s easier to start to use other solutions and see how it goes.

            Reply
    1. AnonInSC

      Yes. Everyone who does go to an appt (and I totally understand why they would while they are looking for a way to GTFO out this company) needs to say something upfront to the medical staff that they are being forced to undergo the assessment and it’s not voluntary. That will shut it down ASAP as well.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Any ethical medical professional would probably disqualify anyone who said that from donating as if they were not a medical match (meaning, the boss would not find out they said anything, just that they would not be used as a donor). They are still subject to HIPPA, and so I believe they couldn’t disclose the specific results of the tests to Crazypants Boss.

        Reply
        1. Dot Warner

          Correct, HIPAA prevents them from telling Lunatic Boss whether or not a specific person was a match or why anybody tested was not a match. Boss’ Brother would only be told that they didn’t find a match for him, not the names of the people who were tested or the reasons why they didn’t match.

          Reply
            1. TL -

              …Most doctors *are* pretty ethical about this kind of stuff, though. Because if they violate HIPAA, they lose their livelihood (and the hospitals they work at would not take it kindly either). It would take a lot of doing to find a doctor who would be willing to go along with this – this is way beyond a grey area and directly into “firing and prosecuting” for any medical staff willing to go along with this.

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth the Ginger

                Add to that that the doctor doesn’t really have all that much to gain from coercing someone into donating their liver under duress. The possible downsides go all the way to losing your medical license, while the possible upsides include a slightly higher chance of one patient getting a matching transplant. No logical doctor would risk his or her career by violating ethics for one patient out of many.

                Nor would it be one single doctor – there’d have to be a team of medical professionals who all were willing to go along with this, since the forced donor could complain to any number of nurses, anesthesiologists, etc.

                Reply
              2. neverjaunty

                I’m not talking about the actual procedure, but about the testing. Few transplant doctors would go along with this. But paying a shady workers’ comp clinic to take a blood sample and medical history? I wouldn’t put this past a loon boss.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  I mean…organ donations are a lot more complicated than that. The transplant team is the team that has the brother’s patient info so there’s nothing that can be done without involving them – you need that info to determine if it’s a match.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger

              But the boss is not “hiring” medical staff any more than anyone “hires” a hospital or surgeon to perform an operation. They have very strict licensing and certification requirements, and they’re not going to risk their livelihood to satisfy an unreasonable and unethical patient. You pay them for their training and expertise, and usually you can decide on a course of treatment based on the risk or the complications to you, but if you’re asking for something that wildly varies from commonly accepted medical practices, your choice will generally be to go along with the doctor’s judgment or decline treatment altogether from that doctor.

              Reply
            3. Observer

              It wouldn’t be his choice. Transplants are fairly tightly controlled, and the boss doesn’t get to choose who tests the candidates. That’s handled by the transplant center.

              Reply
            1. The Cosmic Avenger

              My bad, I should have known that, but I don’t usually work as much with policy and legislation as I used to. I keep wanting to say “privacy and portability” in my head. I have to remember “Accountability Act” instead!

              Reply
        2. Manders

          I was wondering about that–I don’t know of any system in the medical field that would send up an automatic red flag in a situation like this, because it’s just so far out of left field, but OP might want to mention it to her doctor and whichever doctor boss is pressuring her to go to for these tests. I doubt the doctor treating the boss’s brother would be willing to transplant an organ donated under duress.

          I also know that there are some organ donation systems where a whole “chain” of people donating their organs can bump a family member in need up the priority list, even if the family members who donate their organs aren’t a match. Boss could donate his own liver if he really wanted to do the right thing for his brother (but Boss sounds like such a lunatic that bringing that up may not even be an option).

          Reply
            1. Anonsie

              Wouldn’t that be the kicker, though, if he *was* a match and just didn’t want to do it, so decided to try to force his employees to do it?

              Reply
              1. OhNo

                You know, I was trying to think if there was any way to make this situation even worse, and I think you just found it. As awful as it is to say, it would not surprise me at this point to discover that this was true.

                Reply
              2. Serafina

                Wow! As for coming up with scenarios even more effed up than what we currently have written down – congratulations, Satan! Go easy on our beleaguered brains, please, we’re already wandering in circles and mumbling incoherently over this letter!

                Reply
          1. Dynamic Beige

            There are also paired donor matches where the HusbandA needs a new kidney but Wife/Sibling/ChildA is not a match. So they agree to donate to WifeB who is a match and has a Husband/Sibling/ChildB who is a match for Husband A.

            In a very small way, I do kind of understand the sort of grief and despair that can drive someone to want to do *anything* to save someone they love. But demanding your employees get tested for someone they don’t even know or lose their job? That’s some serious cray. If there’s one bit of something nice in here, I hope it’s that Loon Boss loves his brother just that much that he’s been driven out of his mind by the thought of losing him.

            When a former colleague was diagnosed with Leukemia, he needed bone marrow. They held an information session at work for those interested in learning about it, no one was forced to go. This was around 20 years ago, so maybe the criteria have changed but it was all “if you have lived in or travelled to these countries within the past five years, you are not eligible for donation. If you are gay, you are not eligible for donation. If you have had any of these illnesses, you are not eligible for donation.” Unfortunately, they never did find a match and he passed away.

            Reply
        3. Kidney donor

          My recipient was family. They told me at anytime if I opted out for any reason, they would just tell the recipient that I would not be able to donate. No explanation needed and they couldn’t say why anyway because of hippa.

          Reply
        4. sam

          I was going to say something along these lines too. A few years ago, a friend of mine had a sister who needed a kidney – he was one of six siblings (another sister ended up being a match and donating). But he said it was quite interesting when he went to get tested – Even if you’re a match, if you basically express reservations about donating, they will put you down as not a good match – they will give you a ‘medical’ excuse from having to explain (even to a loved one, much less a stranger!) that you’re not comfortable undergoing surgery/donating a part of your own body. Not to mention the fact that anyone that signs up to be a living organ donor has to go through a certain amount of psychological counseling as well to make sure that they understand the implications.

          Further, there are incredibly strict rules about compensation for donations – as in, you cannot receive ANY financial compensation. There was an NPR story not long ago about someone who wanted to donate a kidney to a friend, and ended up getting rejected because when they asked about how she would take care of her kids post-surgery, she mentioned that, among other things, the recipient would also be on hand to help. BECAUSE THEY WERE FRIENDS. But that was seen as enough of a quid pro quo to nix her as a donor. No one who is donating under the circumstances described here (you get to keep your job in exchange for donating an organ?!) is doing so freely and without compensation (the ability to continue employment).

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            “No one who is donating under the circumstances described here (you get to keep your job in exchange for donating an organ?!) is doing so freely and without compensation (the ability to continue employment).”

            That’s what I was thinking. Even if you took the coercion out of it, donating a liver and then getting paid medical leave from the boss could be considered at the very least compensation if organ trafficking. I hope the OP passes AAM’s advice onto those fired and that everyone (including those coerced into going for testing) maybe goes in on a class action lawsuit?

            Reply
        5. Not So NewReader

          But people are being fired for being disqualified. This is mind-bending. How do you MAKE your liver qualify if it does not pass the screening? You can’t.

          I picture that work place being empty, as in most of the people there, either quitting or being disqualified and then fired.

          Reply
          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            I think they’re being fired for not going for testing, though. They’re trying to disqualify themselves from going to be screened with (completely valid) doctor’s notes, so the boss knows they aren’t going to be screened.

            Personally, I would #ragequit and find a lawyer who specializes in that area, but then we are a two-income household with an emergency fund, so that’s easy for me to say.

            Reply
            1. Three Thousand

              But one of the fired people was *born with liver disease*. She had a doctor’s note. Why would he want her liver? Did he just not believe the note, or want to set some kind of sick example about what happens when you don’t what he says to the letter? Is he so devastated by this situation that he’s decided to deliberately tank his company by firing people for no reason at all?

              Reply
                1. Three Thousand

                  The only story I can put together is that the man is simply so overcome with grief and powerlessness over his brother’s condition that he’s become irrational and is making decisions out of intense pain and rage. He may be firing people literally because he can; because it’s the only power he believes himself to have right now. As it turns out, he doesn’t have that power, but he doesn’t know that yet.

              1. davey1983

                I could see an individual that sees nothing wrong with requiring testing and donation of a liver from his employees would assume the doctor’s note is fabricated.

                Reply
                1. No longer new commenter

                  Or he plans to fire all the non-matches and replace them with new staff who may match?

      2. BananaPants

        All that it will take is for a few employees to go to their testing appointment and state that they’re being compelled to be tested on threat of being fired and the transplant center will shut this insane plan down instantly. Psycho Boss didn’t think this through; the pregnant employee and those with medical conditions would be immediately ruled out by the medical staff anyways. Ethical doctors and nurses know that people with those kinds of clear contraindications to living organ donation aren’t going to merrily skip into a hospital to be tested for an organ donation to an unrelated recipient. This is basically organ trafficking and could get the brother booted as a patient at that transplant center.

        Psycho Boss doesn’t seem to realize that there are psychiatric examinations as part of living organ donation to ensure that the donor is not being compelled or paid to donate and understands that donation can have complications including DEATH. Altruism is still a necessary part of the process, at least in the US, and most people aren’t willing to do that for a stranger. Even if not compelled by threat of termination – I’m not willing to give up a kidney or a part of my liver to a stranger because there’s a chance (admittedly, extremely slim) that my sibling or one of my children would need a transplant someday. I wouldn’t have wanted to use up that one chance at living donation on MY PSYCHO BOSS’ BROTHER.

        An employment lawyer could have an absolute field day with this.

        Reply
        1. Government Worker

          I agree that the medical staff will think this is nuts, but what do you expect them to do to “shut this insane plan down”? It’s not their job to call up Boss and tell him that what he’s doing is unethical and illegal or to figure out who to report him to in order to make him stop, especially since doing so would require revealing HIPPA-protected information told to them by patients. Their job is to serve their patients, and they will most likely handle that by simply providing documentation clearly stating that they are ineligible to donate.

          Reply
          1. Fellow Government Worker

            The docs are probably mandated reporters. I’d imagine that in a situation as described, that obligation would require some notification of relevant authorities.

            Reply
            1. AW

              Now there’s a question: can something that happens in an employer/employee relationship be considered abuse? This definitely crosses several huge lines, but is this a mandatory reporter situation?

              Reply
              1. I'm a Little Teapot

                Not in the legal sense. But I, at least, absolutely consider gross mistreatment of employees (like this!) to be morally equivalent and probably emotionally similar for the recipient. As we see here allllll the time, abusive bosses and coworkers can often act like domestic abusers – constantly belittling, gaslighting, threatening, sometimes stalking or engaging in physical violence, and just plain ruining lives. And it’s often very difficult to escape abusive employment, for a lot of the same reasons that it’s hard to escape domestic abuse – you’re financially dependent on the abuser, you’re afraid of them wrecking your reputation and sabotaging your future career, you’re too exhausted from dealing with the abuse to search for another job, you’ve been told so much that you’re worthless that you’ve begun to believe it and think you could never get anything better, the abuser has messed with your perceptions so much you aren’t fully aware of how screwed up the situation really is….

                Reply
            2. Anonsie

              Mandated reporting usually covers only children, the elderly, and threats of bodily harm. “I will fire this adult person if they don’t go get a blood test” doesn’t fall into that rubric.

              Reply
          2. A Teacher

            And can’t alert the media because it would also violate HIPPA. This boss is nuts, hopefully the OP takes advice given by Alison and if they feel comfortable, they will pursue reporting it.

            Reply
          3. Juli G.

            If a health provider believes that a crime is being committed, they can in good faith divulge limited personal health information to law enforcement (and all that would need to be said is that patient was coerced into a screening).

            Reply
          4. OfficePrincess

            UNOS and the transplant team would probably be able to. While boss would still be able to be crazypants, they could probably block brother from receiving a directed donation. Thus removing the incentive for the crazy.

            Reply
        2. Stranger than fiction

          I’m surprised the lawyer didn’t mention religious violation as well. I’m pretty sure there’s religions where you’re supposed to be buried in tact.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Well, in Judaism that’s the case, but living organ donation trumps that, assuming that it’s safe for the donor. But, certainly what the employer is trying is utterly illegal by Halachik standards. You CANNOT coerce someone into donating an organ.

            Reply
          2. Solidus Pilcrow

            Or Jehovah’s Witness (possibly others) that don’t allow blood transfusions. If your getting organs cut out of you, you’re going to need replacement blood.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Well, that’s not necessarily true, fortunately. But, I’d guess that you can’t guarantee that you won’t need a transfusion, so I could see why a JW would have a problem with this.

              Reply
      3. Azalea

        I know when I was considering donating a kidney to a friend, I had a whole page I had to fill out that asked multiple times if it was a decision I was making on my own, and that I was being coerced. They don’t mess around with that.

        Reply
      4. ElleKat

        Totally agree Anon!
        Make it clear that it’s been made a condition of employment to every one encountered in the medical office.

        Reply
    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      I’m not always a huge advocate of “call the media” because we get a lot of crackpots, but holy hell… I’m with Mike C.
      1) call a lawyer & 2) call your local media (newspaper & TV).

      Reply
    3. stevenz

      Just send a paper copy of the memo to the consumer affairs reporter, or something like that, at the local paper or TV news station.

      It sounds like something from some dystopian sci-fi film. Or Workday of the Living Dead.

      Reply
        1. Serafina

          How long has AAM been operating? Are we at 5 years yet? Maybe a special Fifth Anniversary Championship of Badness in which all the winners from previous years are up against each other?

          Reply
            1. Serafina

              Wowser! You should absolutely do 10th Anniversary superlatives or something similar! That’d be awesome!

              Reply
                1. A Cita

                  Hey, I’m pretty sure I have been reading since 2008. Found through recommendation from an online friend who lived in DC at the time.

                2. Josh S

                  I’ve been commenting since 2010 (Thanks Google!), and I know I lurked a long time before I ever commented.

                  Not 2007, but a long time.

                  And now I feel like a hipster groupie: “I knew Alison before she was popular.” ;p

    1. Kyrielle

      This is the third or fourth one I’ve seen this year and thought “no, THIS is going to be the winner”.

      I’m terrified of where we’ll be by December.

      Reply
        1. Serafina

          Whoa, have you got a link to the funeral interruption letter? I thought I’d read all the archives, but that one doesn’t ring a bell.

          Reply
            1. Serafina

              Thanks! And…wow. Just…wow. Maybe we could have a post at some point rounding up some of the Greatest Hits from open threads or in comments? Geez. That guy does qualify for a Worst Boss Ever nomination. Horrific.

              Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        What is good here, is that crap like this is being dragged out into the light of day and discussed. Can you imagine if there was no AAM for OP to ask? omg. I am sure that by the end of the day, OP will see around 1000 fist-bump comments saying, “You are not wrong here!”

        Reply
    2. Rachel

      I didn’t think anyone could top the boss who insisted his nephew move in with the employee for the summer, but yeah – this is much worse!

      Reply
    1. Amber T

      +1000000

      Sometimes gifs are the only way you can adequately express yourself. Right now is one of those times.

      Reply
      1. Pixel

        I was going with Monty Python’s classic “Excuse me? May I take your liver?” “But I’m USING IT NOW!!” *screams, chainsaw, blood splatters*

        Reply
  2. Former Diet Coke Addict

    Lawyer up, yes, my God.

    Additionally, when people are going in for the “screening” and speaking with health professionals, can they speak up and say “I do not want to donate any organs to anyone, my boss is forcing us to do this?” I feel like at any reputable clinic this would raise a veritable hurricane of waving red flags and shut down things in a hurry. I can’t imagine any nurse or doctor not taking that seriously or at least putting a halt on things and try to get to the bottom of it?

    Reply
    1. AnonInSC

      I just made a comment similar to this upthread before I saw yours. Yes, they can and should. And no – any provider with a brain will shut it down.

      And most processes for live donors require extensive review and some psychological testing and guarantee that the person is not being coerced (though this should be shut down before the first medical form is completed). I wish I could remember exactly where I heard this story – I think NPR. But a woman who WANTED to donate a kidney badly was denied because when they asked about her income she mentioned the person receiving it may help pay for extra help on her farm during recovery.

      Reply
      1. Jozie

        I’m kind of worried that these employees, who have been so shockingly and blantantly bullied here, may lie and say they haven’t been coerced because they’re afraid of the consequences, regardless of HIPAA protections. I’d assume doctors would probably have thorough psychological examinations that go beyond surface denials, but I can’t say I don’t see less-than-forthcoming admissions happening…

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          If the one w/ liver problems had gone in, the medical people might say, “Why are you even here?” and the answer might be, “my boss made me.”

          I also think that people would believe the idea that no one can find out the truth. I’m sure the “if you have the -slightest- reservation, we will simply say that you weren’t a medical match; we do it ALL the time, even with children and parents” explanation would make them feel they could say, “I don’t want to.” And maybe they’d say, “I’m only here because my boss made me.”

          Reply
          1. Jozie

            True, if they’re given that out and assured of their rights, I’d hope at least one person will speak to the coercion!

            I guess, on the other hand, though, if this is a provider of the boss’ choosing (and I do honestly believe the medical professionals involved aren’t in any way complicit for multiple reasons), it isn’t a stretch for the employees to feel that the boss and said provider have some sort of relationship and they can’t fully be honest. If they’ve been already treated so horribly by a completely ridiculous boss, I do still worry they won’t have a whole lot of trust for the people involved in this process and not truly, fully and objectively, aware of their rights here.

            Aghh this is all just so horrifying! I’ve probably been reading too many depressing stories recently.

            Reply
    2. Mimmy

      Is it possible that the boss has already made arrangements with certain clinics to expect a wave of people coming in for this testing?

      Reply
    3. AMG

      Yes to the lawyer. I’m sure you won’t have a hard time finding one on contingency. Civil lawsuit–this guy will probably be paying all of you off for a long time coming.

      Reply
    4. MsMaryMary

      I was thinking about alterting the medical community too. Definitely the professional doing the testing, possibly UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) too. There are still a lot of misconceptions about organ donation out there, people involved in organ donation go out of their way to make sure the process is ethical and donors or their families are enthusiastic volunteers.

      Reply
    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      Hopefully worst boss of 2017 too…
      Unless someone is actually forced to donate their organs…

      I shudder.

      Reply
  3. insert pun here

    So say you do get fired as a result of this… thing that’s happening. How do you explain it in a subsequent interview without coming off as completely delusional and detached from reality?

    Also, what the everloving bleepity bleep bleep.

    Reply
    1. LabTech

      “My employer and I didn’t see eye to eye about the scope of the position with respect to my organs.”

      “The company culture wasn’t a match, with respect to organ donation.”

      “My employer and my liver were going in different directions.”

      Reply
      1. LBK

        “My employer and my liver were going in different directions.”

        Excuse me while I shove my fist in my mouth to stop myself from laughing. My coworkers are looking at me like I’m crazy.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        I love “scope of the position with respect to my organs”, that may be the best job-interview-appropriate sentence I’ve ever heard.

        Reply
      3. Chinook

        “To be honest, I have no problem giving my blood, sweat and tears to an employer, but I drew the line at my organs because I believe in some type of work/life balance.”

        Reply
    2. Dot Warner

      If it gets exposure in the local media, all OP needs to say is, “Well, my coworkers and I blew the whistle on the organ donation scandal at Looney Tunes Teapots…”

      Reply
    3. hbc

      That could be a(nother) good reason for going public. “Well, I’m going to leave it that some job requirements changed, but you can google ‘[company name] liver donation’ if you want the details.”

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Bahahahaha! Sorry, you’re right, this would be nice and low key – but I’m picturing the interviewer’s facial expression when liver donation enters the sentence.

        Reply
    4. AW

      A memo went out. Hopefully, the OP has or can still save a copy of the memo.

      Also, this is so off the wall that it actually becomes an implausible lie. It just doesn’t make sense as a thing to fib about, so I’d imagine most hiring managers would be horrified but would believe it.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      “Well, you might have seen it in the newspaper about problems at X company. I was one of the ones who was fired. The police and the courts are involved. For me, personally, I just want to move on with my life, which is why I am very excited to have the opportunity to discuss an opening with Sane Company, Inc.”

      Reply
    6. Creag an Tuire

      “My last employment contract’s got some mighty fine print.”
      “Some mighty fine print?”
      “Some mighty… Fine… Print. And that mighty fine print puts me in a mighty fiiiine predicament.
      (Ooh! Ooh!)
      “If I don’t split, my liver’s forfeit, And if OldJob and JerkBoss so will it, Then a Repo Man will come, And I’ll pay for that surgery
      Surgery!”
      “…I can’t feel nothing at all.”

      Reply
    1. JessaB

      I have a feeling this could be certified as a class for a class action lawsuit, it’s pretty obvious on the face of it that they were let go for the same reason and that reason is illegal (see employment lawyer response stuff, Alison posted.) This is kinda the definition of a class.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        Also, wouldn’t the employees all be eligible for unemployment? So, the employer would also have to pay part of those benefits.

        Reply
        1. OhNo

          I feel like the employer could make the argument that they were fired “for cause”, which I think disqualifies you from unemployment in many places…

          But I would love to see the boss trying to make that case in an unemployment hearing. “I changed the job requirements and Lucinda refused to fulfill them. What were the new requirements? Oh, just to undergo massive surgery and donate her liver to a complete stranger. Nothing big.”

          Reply
          1. No longer new commenter

            I was thinking that this guy is so brazen that he is likely to deny unemployment, claiming his employees were insubordinate. This group might have to do nothing at all but file and show up at the hearing with a copy of the memo.

            Reply
      2. sstabeler

        I’ve a feeling they may have an issue convincing a judge this sin’t some form of prank, to be honest. this is so out there that- as Allison said- it’s hard to believe it’s true. (I’m not doubting the LW’s story, it’s just…

        on the other hand, I have very little doubt that a lawyer would take this pro bono. (after all, a case THIS blatant is more or less a guaranteed victory in court if you can get the court to believe it’s not a joke- and lawyers have to do a certain amount of work pro bono.)

        Reply
  4. Catalin

    Alison, so good to know we’re on the same wavelength. My exact thoughts concluding this letter (and a few times while still reading it) were “What the Actual F***”.

    Reply
  5. NylaW

    What the actual F? Wow. This is at least the #1 current candidate for Worst Boss of 2016. I’m not defending this in the least, but it occurs to me though that perhaps he completely misunderstands the process of testing for organ donation compatibility. He also may be so completely overwhelmed emotionally, mentally, etc., by his brother’s condition that he’s not thinking straight. Is there a history of other outlandish behavior or requests?

    Reply
    1. Rachael

      I agree. Of course, the OP should file a complaint, but it does make me sad that the employer is doing something this desperate.

      Reply
      1. Gandalf the Nude

        If he were a decent dude and had framed it as, “We’re desperate. I know it’s a lot to ask, but anyone who’s willing to be tested, please let us know. Thanks and God bless,” it would have been inappropriate, but hell, I probably would have stood up.

        As it stands: f to the no. EEOC away!

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          I’d even give him a pass on the “assistant coming to ask if they can help schedule the appointment.” It’s little pressuring, but ethical behavior on his part could cancel that out.

          Reply
        2. Meg Murry

          Yes, this exactly. The boss totally could have done nice things to encourage people to participate, such as allowing them to take time to go get tested as a donor without using PTO, or organizing a way for employees (that chose to participate!) to get their tests at work like a clinic nurse coming in. They even could have put in a sweeping policy that would give employees paid time off for organ donation in general. That would have been the reasonable way to handle this.

          For (a less drastic) example, I have a friend that worked at a relatively small business (under 1,000 employees). The CEO/Owner had Lasik and found it to be such a major life improvement that he decided that he had it added to the benefits package – the company paid for up to $X (which covered the full cost for most cases) for any employee or their spouse to get Lasik if they were a good candidate, and allowed the employee to take paid time off for the procedure without using their PTO. There was a tiny cost saving aspect of it to the company (they no longer had to buy expensive prescription safety glasses for employees) but it was mainly a goodwill benefit to make employees happy.

          Also, another tiny point that makes me rage-y is that they mentioned “scheduling people off” to go get tested. Please don’t tell me the boss is making people use their PTO or their precious few days they aren’t expected to be in the office for this mess – the least he could do would be to allow for it on company time.

          Reply
    2. Observer

      The only “excuse”, if you could call it that, is that he is truly delusional. THAT would not surprise me, given that he fired people who CLEARLY would not be allowed near an organ donation with a 10 mile pole.

      Reply
  6. starsaphire

    In the words of Captain Awkward, DTMFA.

    Best of luck finding a new job. Please, please let us know what (general) area you are in, IF you are comfortable sharing that publicly, and maybe someone here can help you network to find something faster.

    Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Yes, but Dan Savage is a terrible human being (racist, sexist, classist, biphobic, transphobic, fatphobic, the list goes on), so better the credit go to someone like Captain Awkward instead.

        Reply
        1. Ms. Didymus

          Better to credit the actual person that is actually owed – even if you do not like them or their views.

          Reply
          1. yayhamlet

            Yes. It’s important to acknowledge that even people you don’t like can still make positive contributions. That doesn’t mean you have to like them, but you can like something someone does or says without approving of everything that person does, or even anything else that person does. Even a stopped clock :P

            Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          I’m actually also fairly sure that he stands against everything that you just listed him as being.

          Reply
          1. Lady H

            No, he really is all those things. He’s especially notorious for being transphobic and fatphobic, but it’s easy to find examples of all the other awful things he’s expressed over the years.

            Also, Dan Savage made it popular. He didn’t invent it.

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              Here’s the thing – I read his column. I read op-ed pieces he writes. I’ve seen nothing that supports what you’re saying here, so I’d love to see whatever you have that supports it.

              Reply
        3. Elsajeni

          What Wendy and Ms. Didymus said, and anyway, Captain Awkward is a weird choice to attribute it to — I believe she’s on record as hating the phrase and the tendency to toss it out as a glib response, since people who write to her are often really struggling with making the decision to break up and telling them “lol just do it already!” isn’t helpful.

          Reply
    1. Anon Accountant

      I sincerely doubt it. Or he may get the story of “my employees are so great, they heard your story and came forward to be tested. Aren’t the just the greatest” and didn’t get the real story.

      Reply
  7. Unicorn Horn

    What the what? Was this guy inspired by those old urban legends of waking up in a bathtub full of ice minus your organs?

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      Tangent: I used to think that was what the song “La Vida Loca” was about. I somehow misheard “She took my money” as “She took my kidney.”

      Reply
      1. NutellaNutterson

        But how would he sing without his literal heart?! Oooh, if he’s singing from beyond the grave that’s even better!

        Reply
    2. Lily in NYC

      hahaha, my old boss fell for this and then gave me the silent treatment for days when I told her it was an urban legend.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        My first husband came home from work over 40 years ago and breathlessly told me about this guy he knows, whose brother went to New York on business yadda yadda bathtub full of ice. If my respect could have fallen any lower at that point it went down a notch for the obvious urban legend.

        An old book club of mine got twisted of of joint when I pointed out that the Neiman Marcus cookie stories was bogus. My clue to shut up was probably the plate of chocolate chip cookies but, ah well.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          I guess people react badly because they are embarrassed. I am entertaining myself by imagining a court document that lists the reason for your divorce as: husband believes urban legends.

          Reply
  8. Batman's a Scientist

    Wow. Wow wow wow. Is there recourse for the employees who have been fired? Do they just file EEOC complaints?

    Reply
    1. LawCat

      There may also be state law on the employees’ side and, if so, complaints can be filed with the state as well. Definitely the kind of thing to get a lawyer to help one navigate discrimination and privacy laws and remedies.

      The reason for being fired I think would qualify one for unemployment benefits in any state (though there may be other qualifications applicants have to meet like having enough employment earnings and that is unrelated to the reason for firing.)

      Reply
        1. Chinook

          “I’d love to see the face of the UE intake people when they are told the reason for the firing.”

          I wonder how many intakes it would take before the applicant would just have to mention their former employer’s name and clerk would be able to stop them right there and hand them the forms, no explanation needed?

          Reply
      1. Natalie

        “Constructive dismissal” – i.e. circumstances were such that any reasonable person would have quit – also qualifies you for unemployment. The bar for that is fairly high but I bet this situation vaults over it.

        Reply
    2. Anna No Mouse

      Sounds like unlawful termination based on Bryan’s answer above. I really hope the people who lost their jobs file suit, and this guy gets what’s coming to him.

      I am ALL for organ, blood and hair donation from WILLING donors. Extorting a person’s organs in this manner is not just plainly illegal, but also icky to the extreme. I mean, why doesn’t this guy just pick a random employee, take him to a hotel and leave him to wake up in a tub of ice? “Dirty, Pretty Things”, anyone?

      Reply
  9. Juli G.

    EEOC, today. This is egregious.

    I almost wouldn’t waste time/money on the lawyer at this point because I’m sure that the terminated are lawyering up (The pregnant lady! The person who has a diseased liver and might need their own donor soon!) but I would probably initiate with the EEOC to make sure something is done. And then I would job hunt hardcore.

    There’s got to be an illegal element for even able-bodied employees. Tying terms of employment to forced removal of an organ seems like it should be illegal but IANAL.

    Reply
    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Alison covered it above — holy crap it is most definitely 1000000% illegal. Even the testing to see if they’re a match is illegal, let alone the actual donation!

      Reply
      1. Juli G.

        I should have clarified – my fault.

        Wondering if this could be considered criminal. ADA violations are civil and this feels so evil cartoon villain that I wondered if criminal charges may also apply.

        Reply
          1. Anna No Mouse

            There’s nothing vague about this. This is straight up extortion! Your liver or your job?

            If a boss says, “Have sex with me, or I’ll fire you” and the person does, that’s considered rape by extortion in many states. This seems like a pretty parallel situation.

            Reply
            1. Elizabeth the Ginger

              But if the boss says, “Have sex with me, or I’ll fire you,” the employee says “No,” and the boss fires them – it’s clearly illegal and sexual harassment, but is it a criminal charge that could carry a jail sentence, as rape could? Or is it only a civil charge, punishable by fines?

              Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      You absolutely should lawyer up in a situation like this, rather than either assuming the EEOC will be all over it, or scrambling to get a lawyer if the EEOC says “nah, we’ll pass”. There is literally no downside.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Although doesn’t the EEOC have to first look at it before you can sue on your own? If they decide not to take it on, then they give you a “right to sue” letter (which doesn’t indicate anything about the worthiness of the case, just that they’ve passed on it)? You can absolutely have a lawyer while that’s going on, but I think you have to file with the EEOC first. But I also might be misremembering this.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Retaining a lawyer and filing a lawsuit are not the same thing.

          A lawyer can advise the OP on how to properly handle an EEOC filing, what evidence would be smart for her to gather (and how), what she can do to protect herself from getting fired, what the state’s laws are, whether there are other avenues than the EEOC such as state agencies, how she should respond if HR at work gets involved, and so forth.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yep, that makes sense. I just wanted to point out that you have to file the EEOC complaint and have them release it before you can sue, since people often don’t realize that!

            Reply
        2. DMC

          You are correct, but it’s always good to talk to a lawyer first, because the lawyer may help you draft the EEOC complaint if the lawyer wants the case on contingency.

          Reply
  10. The Cosmic Avenger

    I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the OP consider playing along for now and getting tested UNLESS they can easily afford to lose this job. Getting tested is invasive, yes, but there’s a good chance that the OP would not be a match, and the surgeons would probably not consider her as a candidate (and possibly even not do the testing) once they took her medical history.

    Ideally, yes, she should refuse, and fight the termination, but not at the expense of her ability to house and feed her self, and her family if she supports anyone else. Someone really should stand up to this incredible jerk of a boss, but we don’t get to tell anyone that they have to do so.

    That said, I hope she can do so, because she was smart enough to question this lunacy, and to be an AAM reader in the first place. And she’d probably win, the only issue is what would happen to her (and possibly her family) in the meantime.

    Reply
    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      If I was the OP, I’d play along up until the point I was alone in a room with the nurse or doctor, when I could say, “I am not actually interested in this test, and am being forced — along with all my coworkers — to do this, unless we want to get fired.”

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Agreed in spades. The second someone says anything, a reputable doctor should be able to shut this down, as pointed out upthread.

        But seriously, SOMEBODY NEEDS TO SAY SOMETHING.

        Reply
      2. LizB

        This might be the best course of action. It lets the OP keep their job so they have time to search, but lets the proper authorities know so this nonsense can be shut the hell down. I would also mention that some coworkers have ALREADY been fired for refusing to submit to testing, show them a copy of the memo, and ask that they not disclose which employee told them/make their report anonymous.

        Reply
    2. Anna

      Nope. This is a huge invasion of privacy and if you go along for the testing you’ve already lost. The employer isn’t saying they must donate, he’s saying they must be tested for compatibility. That’s the problem. He has no business whatsoever requiring that of anyone, let alone the people working for him. He is extorting his employees and the OP under no circumstances should give in to that.

      The idea that employers have all the power for the exact reasons you give (feeding and housing) is the reason we have such crappy protections for employees as it is. And this isn’t even a situation where the OP should stand their ground on principle. They should stand it because it’s immoral and, especially, illegal.

      OP, I would recommend you take this to the media. An anonymous email with the memo and a copy of the schedule will get this nipped right in the bud.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Unfortunately, whoever stands up to this guy is going to get fired and get a permanent black mark on their record when they try to get another job. Even if it’s not fair and not right, I’d be deeply concerned about ruining my ability to ever get hired again if I stood up to this guy. Shit like this is far more likely to hurt me, the peon, than him, the boss.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s not true that whoever stands up to him will have a black mark on their record. Reasonable employers are not going to consider this a black mark. (Jennifer, I know I’ve said it before on other posts, but your cynicism is out of control.)

          Reply
          1. Wendy Darling

            Yeah I’ve gotta say we spoke to some people when I was interviewing who left previous jobs for “my employer was OUT OF CONTROL” reasons, and it was nooooot a black mark. We had I think two people who quit because their employer was doing illegal stuff (NORMAL illegal stuff, like embezzling or violating labor laws).

            I also have a good friend whose “Why did you leave your last job?” was “They stopped paying me but wanted me to keep working indefinitely”. This did not cause him any problems in her job search, and that is significantly less egregious than being forced to volunteer for organ donation.

            I don’t think “He fired me for declining to donate part of my liver to his brother” is going to get held against anyone. Especially since 100 people can corroborate that. (Bonus if it gets reported to the EEOC and you can follow up with “…and he is currently being prosecuted.”)

            Reply
              1. Wendy Darling

                There’s “illegal” and then there’s “wtf are you DOING who would even THINK of that?!” This situation is definitely the latter.

                Reply
          2. Anon Accountant

            Haven’t there been cases where employment law attorneys have provided letters as to why there won’t be a reference from someone’s former employer? “They were sued for wrongfully firing Jane after she reported them for illegal wrongdoing”.

            If it comes to this then maybe a similar letter would be an option for OP and other coworkers. I don’t know if the EEOC has a similar procedure though of providing a basic letter/statement.

            Reply
          3. sam

            yeah. I think if OP needs to keep her job because she cannot financially afford to be out of work for any length of time, that’s something else to consider (and certainly something a lot of people are faced with). It’s easy to say from the outside to “fight the man” when we’re not the ones who have to pay OP’s bills. But given the circumstances, I can’t imagine most potential future employers holding this against her.

            And I say this as someone who was unemployed for two years – when i first got laid off, no one could understand why (because it didn’t make sense from the “outside”). After my former firm finally collapsed in a giant, extremely public, bankruptcy heap, it became an interesting anecdote that everyone wanted to talk about in interviews and actually got me in several doors (the guy who hired me here actually had a family member who worked at the same firm.)

            Reply
          4. Undine

            I’m just imagining what it will look like to the employer who interviews two people from this company for the same job and hears this story twice.

            Reply
        2. Temperance

          This is simply not true. I can see why there would be serious consequences for some people who couldn’t survive on unemployment for long, for example, but “permanent black mark” for getting terminated without cause because your boss is trying to force you into giving up body parts …. no. That’s not a thing.

          Reply
        3. M

          People find jobs after getting fired. Let’s not be unnecessarily discouraging if the OP does want to do something to rectify the situation.

          Reply
          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            I’ve hired people who were fired for “not being a good fit” and even one whose former boss told me they were “a complete slacker.”

            I think anyone who said, “My boss required employees to have a donor compatibility test…” would be fine. I might ask their reference from the current position if this was in fact true, but to me that is a very legitimate reason to be let go.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Off-topic, but can I ask, what outweighed the “complete slacker” reference to the point that you chose to hire them anyway? And how did that hire turn out?

              Reply
              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                A really incredible portfolio and the fact he was honest about struggling with time management, but outlined the steps he had taken to improve and learn so that it would be less of a problem in this new position.

                It also helps that I hire for graphic designers and writers, so I am used to dealing with people who sometimes need a bit more hand-holding when it comes to time management and deadlines. I can work with someone on meeting deadlines or “why we do work when we are work”, but I can’t teach an artistic eye.

                Reply
              2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                Realized I answered the why, but ignored your second question.

                He worked for me for about 1.5 years before being recruited away to a video game company. His lead and I had to be a bit more micro-manage-y, but since he was amenable to it, the whole situation worked well.

                Reply
          2. M

            I’ll go further: people find jobs after getting fired EVEN in less outrageous situations than this one. So even if somehow this case doesn’t get media attention, and even if this boss can’t be used as a reference, even if nobody bothers to get the employee’s side of the story, it is STILL possible to find a job after getting fired.

            I’m not trying to say getting fired is NBD, or that employers don’t have a lot of power over our lives. Obviously! But “I might get fired” can’t be a threat that has such an absolute chokehold over our lives that we’re afraid of *blowing the whistle on attempts at forced organ donation*, my god.

            Reply
            1. Lily Rowan

              Yeah, it’s not like there’s a Permanent Record that just lists your demerits — every hiring process involves human beings.

              Reply
              1. Not a Real Giraffe

                This, exactly. The “black mark” only exists if you specifically bring it up and direct your interviewer to gather a reference from someone you know would say horrible things to you. There’s no actual record!

                Reply
                1. Proof is in the pudding

                  I got two job offers three weeks after being fired (well, failing a probationary period) for not reaching the required standard. It can be done.

        4. K.

          I cannot imagine any reasonable employer hearing this story in an interview and thinking ill of the interviewee – particularly since the interviewee could provide confirmation via the other fired employees. Getting fired for a completely, totally nonsensical reason like this that has nothing to do with performance isn’t going to bar someone from employment for life.

          Reply
          1. Isben Takes Tea

            That’s just what I was thinking. You don’t have an employment file that follows you around via nebulous back offices, like a filing-cabinet version of the Luggage in Discworld!

            Reply
            1. Susie

              This is an hilarious image!
              Every time you’re in an interview it opens up and spits out something horribly damaging at the most inconvenient time.

              Reply
          2. Mallory Janis Ian

            I don’t think so, either. My sister-in-law has a condom stapled to her “permanent record” from high school. Because some kids on the bus were batting around a condom balloon, and she was the one who got caught with it.

            Reply
        5. Pwyll

          Even unreasonable employers aren’t going to give a black mark to someone who says “I was fired because I wouldn’t give my liver to the owner’s brother.”

          Reply
          1. AW

            I know, right? Even a manager that expects all employees to be available 24/7 or who screams criticism in all hands meetings is going to side with the OP on not giving up their liver.

            Heck, it’ll probably make them feel good to be able to say, “Even I’M not THAT bad!”

            Reply
        6. Amadeo

          Being fired is not ‘ruining your ability to ever get hired again’. I have been fired. I recovered and have held down good jobs since then with very little trouble. Granted what I did was not work related and I’ve grown up, but it didn’t ruin my life (even though I was mortified at the time) and telling someone they’re doomed after they’ve been fired is a horrible thing to say.

          Reply
        7. neverjaunty

          What ‘record’ are you talking about here? At least in the US, there is no Universal Permanent Record.

          Also, p.s., this is why people in OP’s situation need to talk to a lawyer immediately. It’s amazing how cooperative some loon bosses can be when they find out there are embarrassing and expensive consequences to their behavior.

          Reply
          1. Charlotte Collins

            I just looked up what being tested for liver donation consists of. First there’s a blood test. After that, the testing can be… invasive… to say the least. I’d refuse, too. Then I’d call the local paper with an interesting story…

            Reply
        8. AW

          This doesn’t make sense unless you honestly think most hiring managers think it’s OK to demand the internal organs of their employees.

          This is not Repo! The Genetic Opera. Demanding someone’s organs is not considered normal.

          Reply
        9. Not So NewReader

          Let’s pretend this is true. I say GOOD! Anyone who would not hire me because of being fired for reasons we are talking about here is NO one I would want to work for. An employer who cannot wrap his mind around just. how. wrong. this is, probably has numerous other problems also and is no one I am interested in working for.

          Let the chips fall where they may, I say. To an interviewer who cannot understand the severity of this setting, “Thank you for telling me now, rather than letting me work for you for months. I don’t want to waste my time with your company.”

          FWIW, years ago I was hugely impressed, like Jennifer here, with the concept of having a black mark on my work record. Jennifer, it’s simply not true. I have seen too many times where employers will hire just ANYONE. This happens in part because GOOD employers look for ways to pay back the community that supports them. One of the ways of paying back is to give people a break, give them a chance to hit the “Re-do” button. I am not sure who gave you this advice about black marks but, Jennifer, that person does not give great advice.

          Reply
        10. Anna

          I’m not entirely sure why you would believe that. There is no way on earth that an employer, even a seemingly reasonable one who turns out not to be so, would look at this as anything other than a completely crazy thing that no reasonable person would put themselves through. There’s a limit on my company loyalty and that limit is reached much earlier than “won’t go through invasive medical testing.”

          Reply
      2. Rat in the Sugar

        I think it’s a lot easier for us to say that here, though, when it’s not our own rent that will go unpaid and not our own bellies that will go unfilled.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          …or our own children’s; or our own medical care that will be interrupted. I think healthy young people on their own can have a hard time realizing how different things get when there are kids and medical needs involved in the decision.

          Reply
      3. The Cosmic Avenger

        Anna, I would also recommend that the OP should take it to the media. But we don’t know how tenuous their financial situation is, so I am just putting out there that they can play along for now and still anonymously report the employer, IF they think they can do so safely. I hope they do, but let’s not blame the victim here for not protesting enough.

        Reply
    3. Jennifer

      I would also play along. Though I am genuinely afraid for whatever employee DOES come up as a match and isn’t okay with it.

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        Someone above wrote that there are rules that would prevent the brother/owner from knowing who was or was not a match and that if someone expressed their discomfort at being forced to do this during the testing it would just be treated as not being a match with no one the wiser as to the actual reason.

        Reply
        1. Wendy Darling

          I’m pretty sure if you don’t want to donate but need to be seen as volunteering for Reasons, you can just walk into the appointment and tell them so and they’ll say you’re not eligible. I don’t think they even bother to test you (why? Waste of money.).

          I have an uncle who needs a kidney who I have no interest in giving a kidney. I’m fortunate that I can be totally upfront with my family about my unwillingness to part with an organ, but I’ve been made aware that if that was not the case it would be handled tactfully. Organ donation people encounter unwilling donors who can’t admit they’re unwilling ALL THE TIME.

          Reply
          1. Wendy Darling

            Not that I’m saying OP should do that, or should HAVE to do that not to get fired, because that is ridiculous and the boss is ridiculous. And I don’t think getting fired for not consenting to be tested for liver donation is gonna get held against a person by anyone you would want to work for in a million years.

            Just that if for any reason OP needs to not get fired right now, that option is there.

            Totally look for other jobs, though, because holy crap.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              Yes, that is an option, but I really don’t get why everybody is treating this as “give in or get fired” with no other choice.

              Reply
              1. Wendy Darling

                I think that is kind of the rough summary though. If you get fired and file a complaint (or file a complaint and then get fired either for filing the complaint or for politely declining to offer up your liver) and the boss gets prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and you are awarded damages you’re still fired, and there’s gonna be a (large) gap between when Nutjob Liver Harvester Boss wrongfully fires you and you are made whole. And realistically if OP doesn’t at least APPEAR to give in, that is what is going to happen, since it’s what happened at the other branch already.

                How big a risk OP is willing to take is going to be heavily dependent on life circumstances. Do they have enough in savings to float them for a period of unemployment? How difficult is it going to be to find a new job? Does OP have dependents? A partner that works? Massive medical bills from the cancer they are now in remission from?

                Reply
                1. Wendy Darling

                  Also, to elaborate because I talk too much, I don’t think it is in any way safe for OP to assume they will still have a job if they lawyer up and their boss finds out. You say “It’s amazing how cooperative some loon bosses can be when they find out there are embarrassing and expensive consequences to their behavior” but I think in this case it is equally likely that the boss will respond to something like that by firing the hell out of OP.

                  I definitely think lawyering up and making Nutjob Liver Harvester Boss face the legal consequences to this completely ridiculous behavior is the most satisfying solution and probably represents the moral high ground, but schadenfreude and moral high ground don’t put dinner on the table.

    4. Temperance

      I do think that the employee should do whatever she personally needs and then refuse the test once she’s at the doctor’s office. I also think she should call the doctor and inform him or her of what is going on here, because they have an ethical duty to shut this down.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Assuming the employees are going to three different medical centers for the testing, one in each location, I’d think if 30-ish people came in from one company that’d be a huge red flag, as in “wow ALL the employees from ABC teapots down the road volunteered to be tested to donate to the owners brother!” They must really love their boss!”.

        Reply
    5. I'm a Little Teapot

      Shit like this is one of the reasons why we need strong employee protection laws that are proactively enforced and a strong social safety net. Coercion into obedience to absurd and outrageous demands is still coercion and extortion (as 2horseygirls and Anna No Mouse pointed out above) even if the threat is loss of income rather than a gun to the head. Some people could afford to say “hell no, I’m quitting right now” but some people can’t.

      Reply
      1. DMC

        I’m not sure I understand what stronger protections would be needed here. This is blatantly illegal, and there are federal and state agencies that one can file complaints with and lawyers that will take such cases FREE because many statutes do allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees ON TOP OF RECOVERY for such cases against employers. That means that even if the federal agency and the state agency didn’t do anything, there are about 100 lawyers lining up to take the case, for free up front. What other protections would help in this situation that would be fair to both employees and employers?

        Reply
        1. Bookworm

          Right. There ARE plenty of protections against this, it IS illegal. Those protections can’t go into action until someone reaches out, which we’re all urging OP to do.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Right. Ultimately, the law can only prevent so much–there is still murder and theft too, after all, and the law is pretty clear about those.

            Reply
        2. I'm a Little Teapot

          But, as seen upthread, there are plenty of people who’d still be afraid to sue or report for fear of retaliation or not being hired in the future. For one thing, it should be illegal to consider lawsuits against previous employers in the hiring process, because that’s a huge disincentive to sue and make employers who do illegal things face the consequences.

          Reply
    6. Yetanotherjennifer

      I agree! Yes, it would absolutely suck for a recovering cancer patient to have to go to the hospital for this pointless appointment. But it’s Crazy Boss’s game and the OP needs to play it for as long as she can until she has found another job. I would think that such an appointment would start with an intake interview and all the OP had to say is “I’m here because keeping my job requires it but as a cancer survivor I am not eligible. I’ll see myself out.”

      Reply
    7. neverjaunty

      You’re going out on a very unstable limb indeed. What happens if the OP is a match? What do you think will happen to her job if she has to disclose she’s not eligible, or if she’s a match but can’t go through with the donation? Do you think that’s the point at which Loon Boss is going to say, oh gosh, never mind then, keep your job?

      And setting aside the issue of the match itself, OP goes through medical testing: now her employer has access to private medical information that’s none of their business – not to mention this is not exactly a boss who creates confidence that such medical information will be appropriately handled.

      You’re mixing up the issue of ‘should we shame the OP if she goes through the testing’ (no, obviously) with ‘what is the best thing for the OP to do in this situation’? As to that second question, telling her to just suck it up because probably nothing will happen anyway is not good advice.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        As a lot of people who work in medicine or even transplant medicine have pointed out, the OP would never need to actually be tested, only to say that they don’t want to participate or are being coerced, and the boss would only be told they’re not a match. The boss would not have access to the testing results. In the US, that would violate HIPAA laws (which don’t apply to employers, but DO apply to all medical service providers and health insurers).

        I’m not mixing anything up, I was counterbalancing the fact that most if not all of us want to see the boss reported with the fact that the OP should not feel that it’s 100% on them IF they have serious concerns about reporting their employer. They might not be able to meet with a lawyer or EEOC investigator for a week, whereas the appointments might be set for tomorrow for their site, in which case I wanted them to know that they don’t need to choose between their job and doing the right thing.

        Reply
        1. Misty

          Here’s a question I have: why would the boss be told whether there was a match or not at all? Isn’t the brother the patient to whom the information is pertinent?

          Reply
          1. Charlotte Collins

            Wait! Due to HIPAA, can that information even be released without the prospective donor’s consent?

            Reply
            1. Ultraviolet

              No, it can’t. I think the idea is that if someone comes in to be tested for a match and reveals at some point that they don’t actually want to donate, the medical team will offer to tell the recipient that that person wasn’t a match. That makes it a lot easier on someone who is being pressured to donate to, say, a family member. Otherwise you’d get a situation like three siblings getting tested to see if they’re a match for a parent and two of them let their doctors tell the parents’ doctors that they turned out not to be matches but one of them doesn’t seem to have authorized their doctors to say anything…

              (I’m not an expert, so this is just my understanding of what knowledgeable people have posted here today.)

              Reply
          2. Ultraviolet

            I think people are just assuming the brother would tell his family every time a prospective donor doesn’t work out.

            Reply
      2. Observer

        She CAN’T be a match, because she’s in remission from cancer. NO transplant center is going to consider her a match. In fact, once they get her medical history, they will tell her that they can’t consider her.

        Beyond that, if she tells them that she is doing this because she will lose her job if she doesn’t, then the transplant center is REQUIRED to treat her as not a match. And, the transplant center is NOT ALLOWED to share the reason for any person not being a match.

        Reply
  11. F.

    And from a purely business standpoint (since words totally fail me on the ethical/legal standpoint), what the heck does this company owner think he is going to do when the vast majority of his employees quit or are fired over this??

    BTW, I have written about my totally dysfunctional company owner, and this is something I could see him doing.

    Reply
    1. addiez

      Ha, I hadn’t even thought about that. I’m sure the boss is dealing with his grief is a very not-good way, but what’s he going to do when his company is decimated… even if he wasn’t sued (rightly)? Ridiculous.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Ha can you imagine them then having to post for the vacancies and the candidates asking why this and so many other openings are available?

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        Grief is very powerful. It can blind people. It can take away their ethics, good judgement, etc. We see news stories of people in grief killing another person that they feel is the cause of their grief/loss. Grieve is one heck of a motivator for all kinds of behavior.

        OP, not saying this makes it okay, NO!, it is not okay, at all. And while I can say, I have all the sympathy in the world for the brother, I would not donate my liver. This is because of [reasons]. I understand that grief can cause people to do outrageous things but by NO means does grief excuse, justify or reduce the wrongness of their actions. And your story here is a good example of grief gone verrrry wrong.

        Reply
    2. animaniactoo

      Yeah, I was wondering about that too – how is he going to pay for brother’s treatment, etc. when his company goes under – quickly?

      Reply
    3. TootsNYC

      My thought as well.

      the OP should encourage everyone to just refuse, and then when the Boss realizes he has no employees, he’s in trouble.

      But even better would be for someone to anonymously call the EEOC (or ask to be confidential), and alert them.

      Maybe best-case for everyone is for the OP to find some lawyer who will explain the law to the boss, so he’ll stop this. And then everyone can go looking for work without the pressure, and leave as fast as they can get a new job.

      Reply
  12. Some Sort of Management Consultant

    Oh God.

    I’m actually speechless.

    I’ll admit I was worried you were gonna say it was legal which would have shattered my faith in American worker rights (which to a Northern European often seem… Diluted beyond belief).

    OP PLEASE take this to your local media. Make the biggest fuss you can because this is just…

    Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Though I’m sure there are Republican politicians out there who would like us to be. They’re good with giving employers control over the uteruses (uteri?) of their employees, why not extend that to other organs? /sarcasm

        Reply
            1. Minion

              I’m not interested in arguing about political or religious or moral beliefs on here. And I’m not going to do so now. I just don’t see how making this some kind of platform to attack political beliefs is helpful to the OP.
              Generally speaking, I’ve seen that the regular readers who comment here try not to throw inflammatory political rhetoric out there regardless of their own beliefs and I sincerely hope that continues here. I’m here because this community is inclusive and mostly kind and considerate.

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                Given that the topic at hand in this subthread was already touching on American politics with regard to workers’ rights, I didn’t feel it to be particularly off-topic.

                Reply
    1. Florida

      OP, I would second the encouragement to take this to the media. If you don’t want to be connected to it, you can do it anonymously. Print out the email that he sent. Redact any identifying information such as your name. Add any details, such as the people who were fired (not names, just the numbers of people). And send it to the media. They will show up your office with the live news van and no one will know it as who tipped them off.

      Reply
  13. Not Karen

    So I work for a company that oversees medical research on liver donation. Shall I get your boss on the phone with our president, a renowned transplant surgeon and research investigator?

    Reply
  14. AR

    I wonder if in addition to the ADA that this would fall under a gross violation of GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) where by the employer cannot collect genetic information on employees.

    Reply
    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      Couldn’t this be seen as some sort of blackmail? It simply CANT be legal, it’s so f-ing insane

      Reply
        1. Artemesia

          It isn’t legal but the real question is ‘is it criminal.’ I would think it would be criminal as some form of extortion. I’m sure there is not a big case history of such examples, but wouldn’t be surprised if there are one or two cases out there that are similar.

          Reply
          1. A Cita

            My guess? The forced testing isn’t criminal. But what happens if the employee is a match and in good enough health to donate? That’s where the criminal behavior would come in (I mean, it wouldn’t get that far because it’s near impossible to coerce donation since that would show up in the psychological testing, but still…)

            Reply
          2. neverjaunty

            That’s why the OP should talk to an employment lawyer, like, yesterday.

            State laws vary. I dearly hope the OP is in California.

            Reply
        2. Some Sort of Management Consultant

          Yes, Artemisia is right!

          I meant “is it criminal?” But I didn’t realize there was a distinction between legal or criminal until Artemisia pointed it out.

          Reply
    2. Ama

      Only if the full test results are actually being reported directly to the boss (which I doubt as no medical office would agree to share that level of detail even with the transplant candidate, much less a candidate’s sibling).

      Reply
      1. Government Worker

        But a boss crazy enough to require the testing is crazy enough to require employees to submit their results to the employer themselves. Would that run afoul of the GINA?

        Reply
    3. I've read that study!

      I also think this may be a GINA violation, but EEOC enforces both it and ADA, so an EEOC complaint is probably still the best move. OP may consider filing their complaint with their state or local Human Rights Commission. These agencies are often set up as local partners of the EEOC, so in addition to them filing your complaint for you on the national level, they may also know if a state law has been violated.

      Reply
  15. OldAdmin

    Assuming this letter is true, I tried putting myself in the boss’s shoes:
    So my brother is sick, and needs a parial liver donation.
    I’m so desperate I’m asking *everybody* to get tested. What about my 100+ employees? I can ask – but how can I improve chances?
    Well, aside from calling meetings at each store and sincerely *asking for their help*, how about an incentive?
    Why not – through a neutral third party – have an award (let’s say $100) paid to everybody who gets tested?
    And a much larger award (let’s say $10,000) paid to a donor?

    I know this sounds terribly capitalistic, but it sure beats the hamfisted number posted…

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      I think paying people for organ donation is also illegal. (I believe that may have been the subject of the NPR piece somebody referenced above; I think I heard part of it, and it was about how our wait lists would go down if we’d allow people to be paid a reasonable amount to donate their kidneys. I might be misremembering, though.)

      Reply
    2. S in DC

      Generally being paid to be an organ donor is illegal and the doctors/hospital ethics board would prevent the donation and the boss/award giver could be charged with illegal organ trafficking.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Yes, you can pay for the costs relating to the surgery and recovery and there’s nothing stopping the boss from holding their job until they get back. But an outright payment? Not legal at all.

        Reply
      2. Lily in NYC

        They could make it a work bonus for being a “team player”! (not that I think any of this is remotely ok)

        Reply
          1. Lily in NYC

            I was thinking more like: Got an extra kidney lying around? Trade it for an exciting career and signing bonus at Insane Industries Incorporated!

            Reply
      3. Chalupa Batman

        If the day off that they’re being given is paid, I wonder if that would also count as compensation? The only thing that would make this story worse is if the people who complied, either out of genuine desire to help or fear for their jobs, got implicated in an organ trafficking case as well.

        Reply
    3. Temperance

      Can’t do that, either. There are serious ethical implications to paying people for their body parts.

      Why do I feel like this bozo himself hasn’t gotten tested, nor has he compelled his wife/children to do same? It’s like the “blood bullies” who feel like they’ve done their part by going up to people and badgering them to donate blood while not doing it themselves. HATE those people.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        When I was a teenager, my dad would take away various privileges if my grades weren’t up to his standards. If I wanted to get said privileges back before the next report cards came out, he would accept my donating blood as a form of “community service” (I guess?) instead and give me back my stuff. It didn’t occur to me until many years later how really weird that actually was.

        Reply
        1. yayhamlet

          Wow, Dad, way to turn blood donation into a punishment. If this were me, it would have soured me on ever donating of my own free will.

          Reply
        2. Temperance

          There is actually a judge who was recently busted for allowing blood donation in lieu of paying fines. Seriously. So your dad was ahead of his time. ;)

          Reply
      2. Anon Accountant

        Especially when they won’t take no for an answer and there’s many groups that are ineligible to donate or some are on medications that render them ineligible to donate. Or others that undergo medical treatment that don’t want coworkers to know but are badgered to donate. Sorry I really dislike badgering on these matters.

        My response? “Ya know, I’m still using it”.

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          They are the absolute worst. I have a lot of friends who are gay men, some of whom are not out at work. They are banned from blood donation, and the “blood bullies” won’t take “no thank you” for an answer.

          I was once confronted by one and responded by asking when *he* was going to donate. He told me that he “couldn’t” because of his fear of needles, so he did his part by making sure other people signed up. When I asked him how he know that those people were just not donating vs. had a good reason, he said he had a “medical phobia” and that was really rare. So obnoxious. My last donation experience was so unpleasant that I’m not going to be doing it again anytime soon – it took me more than twice as long as other patients, because my blood wasn’t flowing fast enough, and their phlebomists were not very skilled and kept moving the needle around etc.

          Reply
          1. Anon Accountant

            Not to derail this thread but exactly. Those who are gay but don’t want coworkers knowing or a woman who was intimate with her boyfriend who had intimate relations with another man are all ineligible. These people may not want others to know.

            I’m severely anemic and very difficult to find veins on so I don’t donate. Our local blood drive phlebotomists aren’t the most skilled or nicest people either so that’s a deterrent also.

            Reply
          2. Brandy

            My blood takes forever too, and when im looking at the pump thingy in the floor they were all “that ones gonna faint” no, IM fine, just want it to go faster. I was there forever. People after me came and went.

            Reply
          3. Pixel

            The clinic in my city has an arrangement where all would-be donors have a short in-person interview that concludes in the interviewer leaving the room while the donor has to fill a simple questionnaire stating “I’m ok with my blood being used” or “Please don’t use my blood”. That gives people a cop-out when doing corporate challenges, but it does mean you need to go through the entire song-and-dance.

            I have non-existent veins and the staff at the clinic run and hide when they see me. My husband is at the lounge, into his third cookie and second box of juice, while they’re still hovering over my poor veins trying to figure out if it’s even worth it. I’ve been turned down twice now but will most definitely try again.

            Reply
            1. Temperance

              You are so much braver than I am. I’m still recovering from a hospitalization, and I cringe at the idea of going near a needle again for a long, long time. lol

              Reply
              1. dawbs

                FWIW, IME (so your mileage may vary!) the phlebotomists at the Red cross are a gazillion times better than the hospital. The last time I was in the hospital, I was on my 4th nurse and my gurney looked like a crime scene, before they got the IV placed. It’s astounding–I’m a really hard stick (and being in the hospital, where I”m cold and nervous can’t possibly help.

                It’s never taken more than one stick at the red cross (and I’ve filled up my donor card and am waiting for my new card, so I’ve donated a LOT of blood)–probably because it’s what they do ALL day, every day. (And they’re also a lot more understanding about “hey, I don’t care if you have to try a second time, but if you start wiggling the needle around and that jazz, I am done). According to the nurses there, the phlebotomists at the donor centers are usually more experienced than the ones who go ‘out’ on the drives at offices and community places too.

                Which is not to say you have to go donate, just if you want to, the people there are awesome :)
                (I donate a lot because my family has a genetic form of anemia that makes us use more than our ‘fair share’ of the blood supply. Those w/ it can’t donate (obviously) and my siblings are all needle phobic, so I just get to try to donate as much blood as my family uses every year. I think we’re still in the hole).
                My daughter loves going to donate blood, because she’s to young, so she tags along just for the cookies.

                Reply
                1. Jess B

                  This interesting, in Australia the Red Cross now has a policy that they can only insert the needle once in each arm- so if they miss the vein, they have to wriggle the needle around in your arm, and if they still miss, they have to take it right out and try the other arm.
                  I have pretty crap veins too, but I have given blood for a long time, working through the pain and the nurses with something to prove. My mum needed blood when I was born, and it saved her life, so that was pretty motivating.

            2. Anon Accountant

              I wish they didn’t have to go through the whole song-and-dance and could just quietly check a box on a pre-donation questionnaire that states “don’t use my blood” and the pre-donation screening staff could turn them down without wasting everyone else’s time for unusable blood.

              Then the potential coerced donor could say they were unable to donate due to low iron, my new cholestrol med makes me ineligible, etc. I hate pushy people who push their coworkers or direct reports to donate.

              Reply
        2. Tau

          Wow, I had no idea “blood bullies” were a thing. How obnoxious! I’d be pissed as hell if I ran into one; I spent most of the last… two years? dealing with a medical condition that involved losing so much blood that I became increasingly severely anemic, started having fits of dizziness, and eventually outright collapsed one day. I’m not inclined to part with any of my blood until being able to climb stairs without needing to pause and catch my breath halfway up is no longer a novelty, nor am I inclined to explain why to random strangers.

          Reply
      3. Kay

        LOL! This reminded me of the blood donation centers here in Japan. They offer anime or other character merchandise as incentives for donation. Donate and get a free clearfile–but the clearfiles are random. Can you imagine? Donate and you might get your favorite character or your least, who knows. :) Either way, your blood was only worth this 400 yen clearfile!

        Reply
    4. I'm Not Phyllis

      Boss would be about 1000% more likely to get my willing cooperation if it was voluntary and incentive-free. People who are willing and able likely won’t need any incentive to donate an organ. And those who aren’t willing or able shouldn’t have their jobs threatened.
      You’re probably right that he wouldn’t have the same number of people being tested, but there’s no guarantee at all that any of these employees will be a match anyway.

      Reply
  16. animaniactoo

    I am just picturing that line at the Unemployment Office.

    “Reason for termination?”

    And the subsequent look on the seen-everything-heard-everything processor or case agent’s face.

    Reply
    1. AF

      And I’m wondering whether that could also help trigger an investigation with the Dept. of Labor in that state. And perhaps a call to the local news (TV, newspaper) couldn’t hurt. OP, thank you for sharing your story – best of luck to you and your colleagues, and please keep us posted!

      Reply
  17. Big Hat No Cattle

    I bet the local unemployment office would have a field day with this. I can just imagine those fired employees coming in and sharing why they were let go. :(

    Reply
    1. Anon Accountant

      Right! Several employees with the same odd story would certainly spark a “we should talk to somebody about this for investigation. This is really odd”.

      Reply
  18. TheExchequer

    I think I may need someone to bring me some smelling salts because I am floored. I need to go thank my boss for letting me keep my organs on the inside. Holy moly guacamole, Batman.

    Reply
  19. SaraV

    I’m just trying to figure out a) what short circuited in the owner’s brain to think this was a good idea, and b) what circle of family/friend/acquaintances (or lack thereof) wouldn’t step up and say “Dude, you SO can’t do that!”

    Whatever happens, OP, I hope you and your coworkers (and the one’s already let go) land on your feet. Please keep us updated!

    Reply
    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I’m genuinely curious to hear what the brother’s input on this was. Was it “hell yeah, get me a liver!” Or is he in the dark, and the boss is going to spring it on him “I got you a liver! I forced all my employees to get tested or get fired and here’s Jim! Off to the hospital we go!” while the brother looks on in horrified shock.

      Reply
      1. Izzy

        I read a story once about a serial killer who donated a kidney to his ex-girlfriend’s brother. From prison. They kept the donor secret from the brother until the transplant was completed. Have to think that the brother was pretty unhappy.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          Oooh, I wonder if the ex’s brother became a serial killer after the transplant! I have cadaver bone in my jaw and was hoping I’d get some cool new personality traits from the donor, like suddenly liking to work out or eat salad.

          Reply
          1. Calliope

            There was an anthology film called Body Bags that had this premise — it’s the part with Mark Hamill in it, called “The Eye”.

            Um, the serial killer part; not the working-out-and-eating-salad part.

            Reply
      2. K.

        I had the same thought! I have a brother that I love dearly and I would sign up for testing immediately and without question if he needed an organ, but if I were like “Hey, guess what? I’m making all my employees get tested to see if they’re a match, and I’m firing them if they refuse!” he’d have me committed, because that is INSANE.

        Reply
      3. AnonAnalyst

        I was also wondering this, especially if the brother doesn’t know. Is he just planning to call him up and tell him he found him a liver? Because I would imagine that if that happened to me, I would have a lot of questions.

        Reply
        1. Trainer

          If this gets reported, the brother may lose his eligibility for being a recipient because of how unethical this is. If he’s complicit in the plan then he deserves the consequence, but if he doesn’t know about it that would be pretty awful

          Reply
  20. jhhj

    Find a new job, and if you want to, play along until you get your new job, and if you prefer, have him fire you because you refuse to donate your liver and start legal proceedings — either are totally reasonable stances to take. I hope your ex-coworkers are all starting a lawsuit.

    (But find a new job anyhow! I cannot imagine this company is long for the world.)

    Reply
  21. Anon Accountant

    Gather all your documentation, take detailed notes and talk to the EEOC and an employment law attorney today. Please TODAY.

    And I’m sorry to read about your medical condition. Hope you are feeling better.

    Reply
    1. Florida

      I agree with this. I really encourage you to contact EEOC. He can’t fire you in retaliation (not legally, at least). This is so egregious that I would definitely file a complaint. If you still have contact with any of the terminated employees, encourage them to the same. They have absolutely nothing to lose. Good luck. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      Reply
    2. NotAnotherManager!

      YES. I very rarely encourage people to sue (because it’s expensive, drawn-out, and an all around pain in the ass), but I would certainly file an EEOC complaint and consider, with other employees, talking to an employment lawyer.

      Keep all memos, emails, and any other communication related to this “requirement” — and keep the copy somewhere other than you work computer. Keep a log of conversations/terminations you see, etc. with dates, times, and names.

      This is just beyond the pale. I don’t care how broken up the boss is about his brother’s health, this is not a normal reaction to that grief. He needs therapy, and he needs to knock off the blackmailing of his employees.

      Reply
  22. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    If your organization is that large, don’t you have HR? They should have been screaming to nip this in the bud immediately! Unless they were the first ones on the chopping block, I suppose…

    Reply
    1. Elsajeni

      I’m sure they would have been! But what can they do about it, really? He owns the company, and he’s already firing people for refusing to be tested as potential liver donors — I don’t think he’s going to say “Oh, but I can’t fire the HR person for telling me not to do this — that would be crazy.”

      Reply
  23. Mimmy

    Wow. Just…..wow.

    At the very least, OP, I’d start looking for another job. In explaining why you left (if asked), just say that it wasn’t a good cultural fit.

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      Side note: If nothing else, I love reading everyone’s reactions to these types of posts!

      Hoping for an update on this….what a rotten situation :(

      Reply
  24. TotesMaGoats

    I literally can’t even. I think the Demotivator image of the Mayan temple with the title Sacrifice: All we ask here is that you give us your heart is appropriate.

    Do what AAM says. Seriously. And this is one of those times when I’d strongly advocate for going to the media. This is wrong on so very many levels.

    I could see how in one of those mythical companies that are small, benefits and working conditions are great, just the perfect place where an email asking people who would be interested to call would be ok. I’m not sure if any of those places actually exist but I’ve seen blood donation requests circulated among smaller work groups. This is just not that at all.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      The bloodmobile comes to my workplace to give us an opportunity to donate, but it is 100% voluntary, and we schedule it ourselves. I do it every time–it’s the only time I can donate because the donation center is so far from my house and has weird hours. I appreciate that they give us the opportunity to do so.

      But I can’t imagine what I would do if my boss told me the donation staff were going to come and forcibly take the blood from me!

      Reply
          1. Cath in Canada

            Heh, I once worked for an employer that would pay us a small bonus for donating blood to them and we always joked that the boss was a vampire. I’m sure our colleagues who did the blood draws were pretty sick of that joke!

            (The company sells products to research labs that purify specific cell types from blood, and they always needed fresh samples for the R&D and QC labs. It was 100% voluntary – they were VERY careful about that – and they had all the relevant ethics permissions etc. We got something like $20 cash per small vial. I’m ineligible to donate blood for transfusion in Canada because I lived in the UK during the whole CJD/BSE thing, so I figured I may as well make some extra spending money for something I always used to do for free anyway!)

            Reply
  25. Guinness

    Not intending to thread hijack, but something struck me:
    “The ADA also prohibits employers from requiring employees to submit to medical examinations and medical inquiries, unless those medical examinations and medical inquiries are job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

    Our company is doing those “wellness screenings” where you get your blood drawn and get a huge report back. We’ve had two so far, and they were strictly voluntary, but there’s been talk about the next one being tied to how much you pay for health insurance – those who don’t get the screening will have to pay more. I guess this is technically legal under the ADA, but the fact that those who don’t more or less take a pay cut seems a little sketchy to me?

    Reply
    1. KT

      It’s how it’s positioned. You’re not getting a paycut, the ones who participate are getting a bonus :) That’s how it’s optional too.

      In addition, the company never sees the results. The external company handling the screening does and connects with your insurance company, so your employer is oblivious if you have high blood pressure or whatever, and therefore can’t discriminate against you.

      Reply
      1. Emmie

        Employers in some states might see the aggregate results because those are used to calculate premiums. An employer who has higher risk factors (BMI, smokers, etc…) will have a higher chance of more expensive claims and a higher premium. I imagine also that companies with self funded insurance use the aggregate results to budget for annual medical claims. But, yuck. I hate these tests no matter how they are positioned.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          No, they don’t. The reality is the the companies that do the testing are heavily regulated, and would get shut down if they shared individual information.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            The medical companies might not (deliberately, at least). The insurance companies do. We’ve seen letters here about people having “confidential” medical information taken for insurance purposes – like wellness programs – suddenly spread around by others at work, like HR.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              That’s if the information is taken by HR or someone in the company, and then passed on. But, if the insurance companies are taking the information, that’s a different thing. Sharing individual information is gong to be a BIG deal.

              Reply
          2. Julia

            Not where I work. We just use the doctor around the corner and he sends the results to my colleague or me to translate them for those who do not speak the local language.

            Reply
        2. Chinook

          Actually…I just learned why DH hesitant about seeing a doctor about some things. Turns out his employer does require to see all their test results to deem if they are “fit for duty.” They are the only police force in Canada (if not North America) that has the requirement of seeing their medical files (most just need a doctor to confirm their fitness). I never believed him about this until it was discussed a senate hearing when the top cop actually publicly announced the health status of someone who was scheduled to testify (and acted like this was normal).

          For the record, they also were only given the right to unionize this year (and what can be negotiated is still being decided) and reside in a strange jurisdiction where the only labour laws that apply to them are the ones that explicitly include them (which means none) as specified by Parliament.

          After hearing this, I have never been more grateful to be covered by privacy laws.

          Reply
    2. Juli G.

      Legal. There’s a few hoops a company has to jump through to comply with the law but it’s not very difficult – which is why it’s becoming incredibly common.

      Reply
    3. LBK

      This exists at my company now (we get $300 off our premium for doing a health survey and $200 for doing the blood test). I think it makes sense and isn’t illegal insofar as the purpose is for that info to go to the health insurance company, who I imagine in turn will drop the company’s rates based on the health of the employees. It’s essentially passing a portion of the savings on the premium the company pays to the employees.

      Reply
      1. Nancypie

        I only got 50 off to fill out a health questionnaire and then they felt free to call me monthly to counsel me about diet and exercise. So annoying to get those calls during the busy work day. I haven’t participated in subsequent years.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Yikes, they called you!? We get a little thing at the end of the survey with very general recommendations (exercise more, basically) but no one has ever contacted me.

          Reply
          1. ExceptionToTheRule

            My insurance company tries to call me all the damn time if I’ve gone to the doctors office. I don’t answer and I don’t call them back.

            Reply
      2. Observer

        I think that there is a limit to how much they can increase the charge for insurance / decrease the company’s subsidy. The idea is that if it’s too high, then it’s not really voluntary.

        Reply
    4. Wendy Darling

      Ugh, that would really cheese me off. I’m actually pretty on top of my health (beeeeecause it’s not great). I already KNOW what’s going to be in that huge report because I have most things checked periodically. I would be PISSED if my employer made me get blood drawn to lower my insurance payments (especially because I already have at LEAST one routine blood draw a year and am a legendarily hard stick — they usually have to draw from MY HANDS).

      Basically I am an adult and I am capable of monitoring my own health. :/

      Reply
    5. Nobody Here By That Name

      I’ve wondered about that for my own job. They have a similar thing where you don’t HAVE to do it, but you pay more if you don’t. It’s not requiring it in the strictest sense, but for those making the lower-end paychecks at my company and have kids who need healthcare it’s not much of a choice.

      Reply
    6. yayhamlet

      Legal, but incredibly dickish, imho. I’ve got some medical problems and I’m so not down for the weird, icky moralizing and shaming that all my medical problems are my fault because I didn’t Eat Better And Exercise More. Yeah, sure, genetics don’t care :P

      Reply
    7. Jadelyn

      It’s shitty IMO, but it’s entirely legal as long as the results are not shared directly with your employer (aggregate data and statistics are okay, but not individual results) and the penalty for not participating doesn’t exceed 30% of the premium cost. It would be different if it were an outcome-based program (people pay different premiums based on BMI or something similar). Wellness programs are a ridiculously complex legal issue because you have to comply with HIPAA, the ADA, the ACA, etc. but basically, requiring screenings is legal as long as it adheres to those two main requirements.

      Reply
    8. sam

      We have one of those, but our employer can’t see our information (it’s managed by a third party) except for some large-scale aggregate info (I negotiated the agreement), and that’s only because we are self-insured, so our employer is actually the insurance provider, so they need to see some info for administration purposes.

      There have been some court cases that say they are OK, but it really depends on how coercive or not-coercive they are. Basically, if you’re harshly penalizing people who may fall into a protected class (i.e., disability) then you may run into problems.

      We tried to set ours up to be as “non-coercive” as possible. Ours is structured as follows – We have a “high deductible”, low premium health plan, with health savings accounts. everyone pays the same for insurance (except for smokers), but if you participate in the wellness program, you get additional bonus money added to your HSA. Certain bonuses are earned by everyone (i.e., you literally get a bonus for signing up for insurance by a certain date, whether or not you do anything else). Last year, you had to do a health screening to get any of the additional bonuses. This year, they changed it so that even the screening was *not* a gating item – you could get a bonus for the screening, but you could just do other activities and earn for those.

      Further, bonuses are available for activities that are physical (of course), but also activities tied to emotional and financial well-being. So if you’re someone with, say, limited mobility, you can still earn bonuses – I did one earlier this year that was all about how to set aside more money in savings. We can also earn bonuses for participating in charitable endeavours, and all sorts of things that aren’t specifically about fitness.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Our program is very similar to yours, and you don’t even have to do the biometric screening to get credits, it’s just one encouraged way.

        Reply
    9. 45 Rabbis

      My company does this biometric screening to get a discount on our health insurance. We had to get a blood test and minimally invasive exam (like measuring our waist line) and meet 3 out of 5 health requirements. I’m not the most healthy person and I still met 4 of them.

      The screening is not mandatory and if you don’t want to do it you can either choose to do nothing and not get your discount or choose to speak with a health counselor. The health counselor was also an option for people who failed the screening. In reality the counselor just has a 10 minute conversation with you during which they either make general health suggestions or are more specific based in your screening results. All you have to do is listen and then sign a form that states you had the call and you get your discount. You can also opt in for continuous health counseling and other benefits for free if you do the screening, such as discounts for gym memberships and visits to a nutritionist. My husband is also diabetic and he is able to speak with a diabetic counselor.

      Since they give people options, particularly the ones who may not pass, and don’t force you to do anything invasive to get this discount I think it’s pretty fail. The discount is pretty good too at 20% off our premium for the year along with with a $1000 company contribution to your HSA. So we’re saving almost $1400 a year in exchange for either a biometric screening or a 10 minute phone call.

      Reply
  26. Minister of Snark

    This is INSANE. How could anyone think they have the right to require this of their employee?

    I contrast this to my last workplace, where the Big Boss also had major problems discerning the boundary between “employee” and “servant,” (sending an employee to his home to install a surround sound system, sending an employee to pick up a non-business-related freight delivery on his day off, calling an employee and yelling at her because she didn’t know that she was supposed to send his mother flowers on her birthday) but even Big Boss knew better to do something like this! One of the partners in the business, Mr. Y, was married to a woman diagnosed with cancer. She needed blood transfusions desperately. Instead of DEMANDING that we go get tested/donate blood, Big Boss (he of the many personal errands) sent around a memo describing Mrs. Y’s need and blood type. Big Boss provided all of the information necessary to donate and told all supervisors to give any employee who requested time off to get tested/donate paid personal time that didn’t count against their benefits. All employees who did get tested got a personalized thank you note from Big Boss and Mr. Y. (My iron was too low that day to donate, but I still got a note.) Employees who chose not to get tested were not penalized in any way.

    THIS IS HOW YOU HANDLE SOMETHING LIKE THIS. And I hated working for these people! But even they knew not to act like the LW’s boss!

    Reply
    1. abankyteller

      How bad must the OP’s boss be in other areas if he thinks this is reasonable? It sounds like your boss really sucked, but at least they handled that one thing really well.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I am wondering what else OP’s boss is doing. I can’t help to think, where would I have be in my head to convince myself that this is okay? Scary. Really scary.

        Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      That’s… actually not how you handle something like this. Because the fact that BigBoss knows who donated and who didn’t is coercive.

      Having a bloodmobile and encouraging employees to donate blood? Great. But the boss should never know who did or didn’t.

      Reply
      1. Shell

        Out of curiosity, wouldn’t the boss know who (attempted to) donate if they bring a bloodmobile on board? Just from who left their desk to go to the bloodmobile. Of course, there are no guarantees that the blood will actually be donated (the donor going to the bloodmobile could mark non-consent on the questionnaire, or not be able to donate, or mark the blood bag for destruction, etc.). But inviting a bloodmobile to come on board and letting employees donate on company time doesn’t seem to have much more obscurity than giving employees paid time to go get tested at a clinic.

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          I have a friend who is gay and what he does is sign up for an appointment and then tell the counselor, once he is in confidential territory, that he’s gay and ineligible. That’s one way around it.

          Reply
          1. Shell

            Oh, I know there are ways around actually donating once you leave the desk. But neverjaunty pointed out that it’s coercive for BigBoss (who has a position of power) to entreat their employees to donate and know who attempted to donate (they would have no idea who succeeded in donating, but they would know who attempted based on who requested the paid leave time). But bringing a bloodmobile onto the premises poses the same problem: BigBoss would know who attempted to donate based on who signed up/who left their desk, so the bloodmobile doesn’t seem to be much more obscure than an employee requesting additional leave to (attempt to) donate for Mr. Y.

            I suppose individual employees requesting leave specifically to donate at the entreaty of BigBoss for Mr. Y adds a layer of ethical no-no. But I was more curious at neverjaunty’s premises.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              Right – the ethical way to handle it would be to have a bloodmobile, encourage employees to take time off to donate if they wish or just go learn more about blood donation, but have NO way for BigBoss to be informed who didn’t and didn’t donate (or attempt to).

              Reply
            2. Temperance

              I actually agree with you – I’m very, very opposed to any sort of coercion in any circumstance like this. I was part of a group at my law school who lobbied the administration to exclude the bloodmobile until they started taking blood from gay men.

              I do offer the alternate suggestion for anyone who can’t rock the boat, for whatever reason.

              Reply
      2. Minister of Snark

        I get what you’re saying, but it wasn’t coercive. There was no difference in how people who did and didn’t test/donate were treated. And no one felt pressured to donate beforehand, other than the fact that we knew and liked Mrs. Y and wanted to help her. (Poor choice in husbands, but a terribly nice lady.) Trust me when I say I recognized coercive behavior from this Boss, and this wasn’t it. This was the one thing he didn’t handle like a dictator.

        Reply
        1. Marvel

          The thing is, it’s still a problem simply because it COULD be coercive, even if in practice it wasn’t. Employees had no way of knowing they wouldn’t be treated differently if they didn’t donate. Some might have done it regardless–others might have opted out under normal circumstances, but did it because they were afraid not doing so might cost them farther down the line.

          Even if your boss had the best of intentions, it could also factor into his perceptions of the employees subconsciously. Which could cause a negative effect on unrelated decisions at a later time, such as who to give raises.

          Reply
  27. Chickaletta

    What the? I can’t believe that half the company hasn’t approached a lawyer together yet. Also, the hospital/doctor’s office where the testing is being done should probably be let known of the situation because they aren’t going to want to touch this with a ten foot pole.

    Can’t wait for a follow-up.

    Reply
  28. KT

    WHUT.

    That’s all.

    OP, if you want your employer to be noted for being insane, please click the link on my name, then click on “contact” and send me an email. I’m in PR, I have national contacts in print, online and TV. I can blow this up so this guy is known by everyone as insane.

    I happily offer any and all services free of charge. This is ludicrous and I feel horrible for you and your coworkers.

    Reply
  29. anaranth16

    I am flabbergasted. I’m honestly frustrated that there’s not much more to say about this. It’s just so transparently insane. I’m just sitting here open-mouthed. WHAT THE ACTUAL.

    I really, really hope the LW provides an update on this one.

    Reply
  30. AnonEMoose

    OP, if you needed assurance that this is messed up: THIS IS MESSED UP BEYOND BELIEF. I rarely say this, but it’s time to lawyer up. And look for a new job, if you’re not doing so already. I can empathize with the owner’s panic and grief for his brother, but this is so, so beyond the realms of ok that it couldn’t find ok with the Hubble and a star map.

    Reply
  31. Jillociraptor

    OP, this is completely bananas. I used to work in a transplant center that did living organ donation, and there’s some stuff I want to share with you.

    First, your clinicians are legally obligated to secure informed consent before even starting the testing process. If they believe you are being coerced, they won’t even test you. And if you are being coerced, they will gladly tell the person coercing you that you have a medical reason that prevents you from being considered to shut the situation down. Your doctors are there to treat YOU, not the patient in need of a transplant. In any center that’s legally and ethically sound, the treatment teams for the recipient and the potential donors will be completely separate. Their #1 priority is you, and they will do whatever it takes to keep you safe, including providing whatever documentation you need to get your boss off your back.

    Second, the evaluation process to donate a liver lobe starts with a questionnaire and a meeting to talk with a clinician before they take you to do any bloodwork or testing. If you do decide to give the impression of playing along, you should not have to do undergo ANY medical procedures at ANY time in this process unless you want to. Your clinicians should protect you. You are almost definitely not eligible for donation anyway given your past cancer.

    Third, this is completely insane and literally every doctor who sees you will think so. I know in these situations it can be easy to lose your sense of reality and what’s normal, but please feel secure in knowing this is bonkers, and NO doctor that you see will have even an inkling of doubt about that. They will be in your corner, and they will help you escape the situation in the safest way possible. I talked with lots of desperate families, some of whom did things that were coercive and unethical, but nothing that even approaches this. So while I have lots of empathy for the panic and devastation of knowing that your family member is sick, this is so, so, so, SO far beyond the pale of what can be rationalized that you can also feel secure knowing that most people will agree with you too.

    Yikes. Good luck, OP. There’s no good choice here because your boss has lost control of his faculties. I hope you get out soon.

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Thanks for confirming what I was guessing at above. Since you’ve worked in the field, would UNOS be involved in a directed donation, since there’s no waiting list or assignment? Because I definitely get the impression that they would shut this whole thing down once it came out that potential donors were being coerced and financially incentivized.

      Reply
      1. Jillociraptor

        Yes, they are usually involved because recipients are typically listed for deceased donation as well, but I’m not sure what the reporting requirements are to UNOS or anyone else for systemic coercion like this! For an individual, the clinician has all they need to support the coerced patient but I’ve never heard of a wide ranging issue like this happening. I suspect that UNOS would advise the network of transplant clinicians of the issue but I don’t know if there are other tactics for the boss.

        Reply
      2. Momiitz

        I work in the operating room and have been in numerous liver transplants both cadaver and living donor.

        Every organ transplanted does get a unos number and is tracked by the regional donor services (i.e. We work with Carolina Donor Services). Every organ brought into the operating room has to be double and triple checked, by the nurse, surgeon, and anesthesiologist.

        Reply
  32. Allison

    That’s downright disturbing, if my employer was forcing me to undergo testing and possibly even surgery, I’d probably break down and have a panic attack.

    It wouldn’t even be appropriate to ask your employees to donate an organ, much less force them.

    As an aside, I can totally see this being an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Picture it, the donor finally gets a moment alone with Dr. Grey and admits they’re donating because they have no choice, they’d be fired otherwise, and for the rest of the episode, Dr. Grey has to decide whether she should tell anyone, whether she should do the surgery, etc.

    Reply
    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      It actually WAS an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (sort of). A patient revealed he was getting paid to donate an organ for a transplant and ethical dilemmas ensued :)

      Reply
  33. Temperance

    LW, I can sympathize with you. I’m recovering from a serious infection that nearly killed me, and am frankly not interested in the potential of donating organs to strangers and all of the infection risks that a procedure like that would entail. Hard pass. I would risk it for my husband, or my sister and her kids, but they’re worth it to me. No job is worth that, especially not if my boss was a massive jerk who fired sick people and pregnant people because he couldn’t harvest their organs.

    Why do I feel like your owner himself has not chosen to get tested, but feels like he’s doing his part by using his property (er, employees) instead?

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      ” No job is worth that, especially not if my boss was a massive jerk who fired sick people and pregnant people because he couldn’t harvest their organs.”

      Really great point, if anything the boss is making everyone LESS sympathetic to his concerns. In an extreme case like this, people will take action to protect themselves such as quitting on the spot. So the boss is going to be dealing with many unforeseen reactions.

      Reply
  34. Lou

    I love my siblings dearly (take a bullet, ride-or-die, so on), but I don’t know if I’d ever go this far for them. How does anyone even conceive of such an insane, down right cruel and illegal idea?? I hope the letter writer and her ex-/coworkers get the justice they deserve! And may this become a lesson to any boss who thinks they can abuse their power without any repercussions.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Me too. I would do this for my children, my nephews, my grandchildren and my husband — but not anyone else — including older relatives. Liver donation is very risky for the donor – more so than kidney donation — people have died doing this. I only take that risk for someone I am willing to die for.

      Reply
      1. HeatherLynn

        I agree that I could never just donate an organ to someone I didn’t have a connection with. I’m a registered organ and bone marrow donor. I am 100% willing to give bone marrow to save the life of a stranger but there are too many risks with an organ. (And once I pass away I want my organs to save other people.)I admire and applaud those who can take on the risks and donate to strangers. I honestly wouldn’t even consider donating to anyone other than my mother, grandmother or sister because we are so close. I work for a small business and I can’t imagine my boss giving me this option. He knows everything about my finances being a financial advisor and has a huge upper hand. I agree with the others who posted that you should file a complaint and then consult a lawyer.

        Reply
    2. BananaPants

      Living liver donation involves significant pain, 2+ months off of work, and has something like a 5-10% chance of serious complications and a 1% chance of death. I’m not willing to even consider risking that for anyone other than my brother, my husband, or my children. I’m just not that altruistic.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Just going off the top of my head- the liver is one of the largest organs in the body. Science is still finding out all the various things the liver does. It performs hundreds of tasks. Your liver quits working then you’re done– it does not matter if you are the donor or the recipient at that point.

        Fortunately, medical people are more ethical than this boss, because this boss is on the verge of telling people that his brother’s life is more important than their lives. This goes into “playing God”.
        It’s just so baaaad.

        Reply
  35. Nunya

    For those concerned about the OP quitting or being fired for not going along, and missing out on food/rent money – going to the media about this, even leaking verifiable information, would most-likely spark some crowd funding for affected parties. A side bonus to exposing the organ-trafficker.

    Reply
    1. Zillah

      That’s a pretty big risk to take, though. It sounds good in theory, but whether crowdfunding would actually pan out isn’t clear by any means.

      Reply
  36. Jake

    I’m a little surprised that this is actually explicitly illegal. It obviously should be, but our employee protections tend to be written with the assumption that companies this crazy won’t keep employees long enough to stay in business, so the free market will take care of it in the long run. Good to know the employer is actually breaking the law here.

    Reply
  37. Kimberly R

    Something else that struck me-the employee with liver disease that is ineligible to donate had a doctor’s note. Usually, if you need a doctor’s note for something, you have to actually tell them what you need it for (what you’re opting out of). How did that employee’s doctor not hit the roof when she explained what she needed him to write?
    “Hey doc, can you please write a note and sign it saying I can’t get tested to donate my liver to my boss’ brother?”
    “Employee, why would you need a note for that? It’s completely voluntary.”
    “My boss is requiring the testing or else we’ll be fired.”
    **doctor freaks out, as any law-abiding ethical medical professional should**

    Reply
    1. Rye-Ann

      I mean, for all we know, the doctor WAS freaked out (hopefully). It still makes sense to write the note, in the hope that it will protect your patient’s job (didn’t work but it was still worth a try).

      Reply
    2. Jillociraptor

      I’m sure the doctor freaked out, but I honestly have no idea what the reporting mechanism is. What is the doctor supposed to do with the information?

      I suppose we also don’t know if the boss is already under some kind of investigation. Perhaps some of the doctors have already made reports.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      This is yet another unforeseen the boss neglected to think about. The story will go right around as people talk with their doctors, unemployment officials, and perhaps their family attorneys. It will not be a secret for very long, especially if the company is in a small or even medium sized town. At some point someone with power and position will hear of what is going on.

      Reply
  38. So Very Anonymous

    I’m trying to imagine this coming up in an interview (since, you know, somehow all those people being let go need to be replaced).

    “Why did the person who previously held this position leave?”

    “Because they refused to be tested to see if they were a match for a liver transplant boss’ brother needs.”

    (cloud of dust appears shaped like the candidate as they run out of the room)

    Reply
  39. Sad Kitty

    HOLY SH!TFIRE BATMAN WHAT? HOW? HUH?

    If everyone who was let go doesn’t group together for some kind of lawsuit, I would be very disappointed.

    WHAT
    THE
    FUKAKES?

    Reply
  40. HeatherK

    A classic case of grief taking the reigns. Oui.

    This psychological shadow from the boss’ grief intrigues me as a person interested in psychology… but obviously the whole situation is just bananas from any standpoint.

    Reply
  41. lunch meat

    Sorry for the off topic post, but one of the ads keeps freezing up my Firefox while reading the comments because a script is crashing. The script is at redir. adap. tv

    Reply
          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

            I emailed a screenshot, but for further information– the number goes up the longer I stay on the page. After posting the comment above, it reset down to 12. It’s now up to 68, although it was 64 when I started typing this comment.

            (74 now)

            Reply
            1. Amadeo

              My adblocker is doing the same thing. The page tab will flicker like it’s trying to load something and the ‘blocked ad’ count will go up each time it does.

              Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Okay, thanks! There are in fact only a maximum of six ads on the page, but it must be something about the way the ads are loading that are making it think that.

            Reply
            1. Kyrielle

              I suspect it’s the one right above the comments block. I don’t have it blocked, and it rotates through ads. The adblocker may be picking up each new load as a separate ad, even though only one of them is present at a time, if it’s blocking the ads but not the tool that loads them.

              Reply
              1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

                Except that one doesn’t get blocked, at least not by AdBlocker Plus, and the number we’re looking at is the # of ads blocked. My guess is that one of the ads has a script that keeps re-trying to load after being blocked, and the ad blocker is counting each try as a new ad.

                Reply
                1. Sad Kitty

                  AdblockerPlus blocks all adds (in Firefox) on this page for me. I see no ads on this site at all when I browse in Firefox. When I browse in Safari (with no blocker) I see all the ads/sometimes have problems with the site but I try to view there occasionally for Alison! (I also did buy her book lol, since I needed it and also because I typically block ads)

                  The funniest ad to me is that University of Phoenix shows up on the top and sidebar ad quite regularly… and we know how we feel about for-profit degree mills around here. ha.

            2. Long Time Reader First Time poster

              I think the ads load over and over sometimes. Lots of times my browser continues to load and reload long after the page content has loaded. It could be shady practices on the part of the ad networks (making it appear that there are more impressions than actually happened) or it could just be buggy stuff.

              Reply
            3. A Bug!

              As I understand it, it’s not that the blocking tool is confused or mistaken. It’s just that it’s not counting ads; it’s counting the number of requests that the tool refused to allow to be sent, because the request met whatever criteria it uses. The loading of a given ad might involve requests to several different sources, some or all of which might meet the criteria, and a given request might not be associated with a visual element at all, like a tracking element. In my experience, it’s pretty normal for a page with only a small number of visible ads to send 15-30 refusal-worthy requests.

              Reply
        1. sam

          Yeah – I don’t use an adblocker per se, but I disable flash and HTML5, and my “HTML5 disable autoplay” button now says it’s disabling 65 items on the site.

          Reply
    1. Christina

      The new “sponsored content” video ads above the comments seem to be getting through my ad blocker (sorry Alison…but I bought your book and resume services!) and then get really laggy and it’s driving me kind of nuts.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I actually removed that ad altogether last week when they made some changes to it that I didn’t like, and site revenue plunged … so it’s back because it’s contributing a huge portion of the site’s revenue. I’m sorry it’s causing issues though, and I’ve passed that on to the ad network.

        Reply
  42. Lily in NYC

    Story time! My former best friend had a friend that was truly awful to me in every way and I despised her. Well, she got really sick right after college and needed a kidney and my friend demanded that I be tested and I refused. I’m not going to risk my health for someone who hates me. I’d gladly be tested for a relative or friend. My friend lost her shit and berated me to a ridiculous degree – to the point where I friendship-divorced her. I still have no idea if her friend got a kidney; I completely disappeared from their lives. I know I sound heartless, but getting sick doesn’t suddenly turn a terrible person into a saint. And she was a terrible, terrible person.

    Reply
    1. Anna No Mouse

      The risks of living with one kidney is not something to be taken lightly, and your former-“friend” was ridiculous. You made the right choice.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Now I’m curious–did your friend do the same thing to her family and everybody else she knew? (I’m presuming she herself wasn’t a match–or maybe she was too scared to find out and this was her guilt coming out.)

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        She didn’t pester her family because they lived 3000 miles away. But yeah, she campaigned hard to get everyone we knew to get tested and she did get tested herself. The “funny” (more like scary) thing is that she was in med school at the time and should have known better.

        Reply
    3. Chalupa Batman

      Someone upthread said it perfectly: donating an organ is something you could realistically die doing, so it’s not heartless to say you’d only do it for someone you’re willing to die for. Not being able to find someone who feels that way about you when your organs are failing is one of the hidden costs of being a terrible person.

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        That was my reasoning for refusing. If it had been something less invasive I might have been willing. Maybe. Probably not. She was such a jerk! Getting away from that group of friends was one of the smartest things I’ve done – I surgically removed the drama from my life (instead of my kidney!).

        Reply
    4. neverjaunty

      No, you don’t sound heartless. You sound like a very reasonable person with excellent taste in getting rid of terrible “friends”.

      Reply
    5. Kat

      You don’t sound heartless at all! Your former friend sounds like a jerk (and so does her friend). Honestly, even if *your best friend* were the one needing a kidney, I wouldn’t think you were heartless for refusing to be tested. Living donation is hugely taxing and risky, and I personally don’t fault people who decide it isn’t for them.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, walking away from that situation is really the only answer.

      You know, it’s not much different than if the friend said you had to give her friend half of your life savings or your dog or whatever. That is not what friendship is. You are not an organ farm, bank or anything else. You are a friend, first and only. Here is a person that does not understand the functions that friendships serve.

      Am shaking my head.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Yes, this. Would I donate to my children if I were a match? In a heartbeat. My husband? You betcha. Others in my extended family? A few yes, some no.

        Do I have a friend so close that I would donate to them? I’m…not sure. I have a few close enough I’d think about it, but I’m *really not sure* if I would be willing to take that risk for them. And for the vast majority, oh heck no.

        Reply
    7. Artemesia

      I wouldn’t do it for someone I didn’t know even if they were ‘nice.’ I only give up a significant organ for someone I am willing to die for. I applaud people who give kidneys to strangers because they are altruistic — but I am not one of them.

      Reply
  43. Anon for This One

    As someone who once worked at a federal agency investigating complaints against employers, I can tell you the EEOC person who gets your case is gonna have so much fun with this. You can get bogged down with the shitty run of the mill and hard to prove cases, so when something that’s a slam dunk like this walks in the door, you can best believe they’re gonna be pumped to stick it to your boss.

    Reply
    1. DMC

      I hadn’t thought of it like that from the perspective of someone who works at the federal agency, but it makes sense! If I were in that position, I could see me eagerly jumping on something like this.

      Reply
    2. TootsNYC

      OP, you or one of your colleagues who was fired really needs to call them–you’re going to make someone’s day! Think of all the dinner party “can you top this?” competitions they’re going to win!

      For the rest of their life!

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      OP, I hope you see this comment by Anon. It looks like EEOC might be cheaper and easier than a private attorney.

      Reply
    4. Anon for This One

      (and to clarify, this does not constitute legal advice. I’m not an expert on that end of the law. How exactly you should proceed is not a question I can answer, but assuming the EEOC can help you, I can attest that this would be the kind of thing I’d want to work on. And if it got to trial, the judge’s face would worth something in of itself)

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Yeah, if you do end up filing this one, OP, try not to get a settlement that requires you not to talk about it. Being able to honestly say what happened will help your job search, yes, but also you want to be able to tell this story in the future just to *watch people’s faces*.

        Because this is truly bizarre, and the facial expressions are gonna be awesome. Even from people who “have seen it all”.

        Reply
  44. Sydney

    This is insane. I’m so glad the answer is it’s illegal. Because I would be reporting him so fast it would make his stupid head spin. Wow.

    Reply
  45. MommaTRex

    It also sounds like he fired a pregnant woman for being pregnant.

    One of the few times an “Is this legal?” question is NO. NO. NO.

    Reply
    1. Anon Accountant

      It sounds like that. I wonder if this could also include an EEOC charge of violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act given the circumstances of the poor lady’s termination.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        From what “Anon For This” says, it sound like someone at the EEOC would probably enjoy finding as many rules that were violated as possible to add to this.

        Reply
  46. silvertech

    WTF
    Besides the obvious craziness, what is this boss thinking? That he can run a successful business when he’s firing/will fire so many of the employees? That word won’t eventually get out (to friends, family, local people, news reporters…), completely ruining his reputation and chance at success? That his business won’t spectacularly collapse on itself? That he won’t be chased by lawyers?

    I just… there’s too many things that can and will go wrong for him. I can’t even.

    OP, I hope you can get out of there FAST.

    Reply
  47. Not an IT Guy

    I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again…it’s reasons like this why I absolutely detest at-will employment.

    Reply
      1. Squirrel

        I think part of the problem is that it’s the boss trying to deliberately misconstrue what at-will employment means. And I think that most people assume that there is little recourse for firing in an at-will state if one is not part of a protected class.

        Reply
        1. NotAnotherManager!

          Well, he can deliberately misconstrue it all he wants, I doubt that the courts would extend him the courtesy of an exception to the actual law. :)

          I would think an organization this large would have both HR and at least some dual-job-titled in-house counsel of some sort and cannot image how this got by both. Maybe the boss threatened to fire them, too?

          Reply
        2. Mookie

          Right. It’s the thing that’s emboldening him to behave this way, and no amount of interweb folk saying it’s illegal helps the people who have already been fired to eat or pay their rent right now.

          Reply
        3. Temperance

          While you’re definitely correct here, but even in that scenario they’d be wrong: the pregnant woman and the woman with the liver disease and the LW here are all ADA-protected. ;)

          Reply
        4. Zillah

          I agree with your general point, but I do want to point out that everyone is part of a protected class – while in practice there are certain groups who are far more likely to need the protection than others, it’s illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender, race, religion, etc, no matter what the individual’s gender, race, religion, etc is.

          Reply
      2. sam

        yes – as we always say, at will employment means that they can fire you for “any reason or no reason, *as long as that reason is not illegal*”.

        We have so few circumstances that meet that second clause that we sometimes forget it exists!

        Reply
    1. brightstar

      I think even if at will played into this (and it’s so illegal it doesn’t) or if this was in another country with a specified contract, the employer would still attempt something like this . It just goes beyond every boundary.

      Reply
  48. Jessie

    I wonder if there’s a totally different legal angle to this in that you’re not allowed to sell organs. Would setting up a quid-pro-quo situation (where your employment depends on your willingness to donate) run afoul of that?

    Reply
    1. Sad Kitty

      I’d assume so. If this isn’t criminal extortion, it sure is treading the line.

      Downthread, someone also said it could render his brother ineligible at all for transplant if it comes to light!!!!!!

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        If the brother is unaware of what the boss is doing, would that still happen? Because if so, and if he’s ignorant, I really feel for the brother. (Not as much as I do for the employees, to be clear – but if the brother is ignorant of this, I hope he wouldn’t be held accountable for this guy’s behavior.)

        Reply
  49. Some2

    I actually suspect that the employer’s demands may be in violation of the laws regulating organ transplants in the United States as he is attaching a quid-pro-quo to the donation. As a result, his family member would be immediately ineligible to receive the transplant. I’m no attorney, but I slept in a Holiday Inn last night

    Reply
    1. Emmie

      Good point. Imagine if someone actually donates the organ and has complications later in life. I can absolutely see the personal injury suit now.

      Reply
      1. Bowserkitty

        It was part of an old commercial series for Holiday Inn that involved people having the wrong qualifications for a situation, but they ended their statements with “But I slept in a Holiday Inn last night!”

        Reply
        1. Cleopatra Jones

          Haha, I loved those commercials. I was especially fond of the one with the adult son who moves back home and expects his mom to cook and clean up after him. She always said, ‘what do you think this is the Holiday Inn?’ I totally use that on my kids.

          Reply
      2. bloo

        More specifically, it’s “I’m no doctor (or lawyer, scientist, etc.) but I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night!”

        The idea being that staying in a Holiday Inn Express is such a smart idea.

        Reply
  50. Katie the Fed

    This is where I throw my hands up and say “that’s enough internet for today!”

    I have to imagine bossman is in a state of terrible emotional upheaval, but that’s still no excuse. Nope.

    Lawyer up, now.

    Reply
  51. Jean

    +1 to “What the Actual F” and “my jaw is in the floor” and what almost everybody else has said already.

    Here are some “stay strong and good luck getting outta there ASAP” vibes for the OP and colleagues: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    and here are some GYABTPEA* vibes for the boss: $&#^@%$)!???!!!
    (* Get Your A– Back to Planet Earth Already vibes, meaning: have a good cry, call a therapist, chop wood, scrub floors, or do whatever else helps you cope _without_ hurting other people.)

    Yes, life-threatening illness in a loved one is scary, horrible, and mind-numbing, but it doesn’t permit you to extort organs from your employees or fire them if they resist. There’s a biiiig difference between fantasizing and taking real-life action.

    Reply
  52. Leslie Howard

    If there was ever a post on Ask a Manager where I eagerly await a later “Update” post, this would be it. Slam dunk.

    Reply
  53. WhichSister

    Honestly, I didn’t think anything could beat the “Defecating in people’s lunch boxes and setting up IEDS at the workplace” boss.

    I cannot even wrap my head around this. On the bright side, my totally dysfuctional workplace seems so bearable now.

    Reply
    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      That was my first thought – “This is worse than the pooping boss!” I was so sure that one was the winner, and now I’m scared at the apparently infinite possibilities to dub a manager The Worst Boss Ever. In a few months, are we going to be saying, “This is worse than the guy who fired his employees for not agreeing to be liver donors!” The mind reels.

      Reply
  54. Sad Kitty

    Dear Alison,

    I know you don’t hound your LW’s for follow ups and let people submit as they feel inclined, but PLEASEEEEEE stay on this LW for a follow-up. If this doesn’t make it to national media before then, we collectively NEED to know what happens here. LOL PLEASE!!

    Reply
    1. Seriously

      I know you don’t hound LWs for updates, but please hound this one. Is that really what you meant to say?
      LW is going through a lot. Besides her crazy boss, she has her own health problems. We don’t *need* an update. If OP wants to provide it, she knows how to contact Alison.

      Reply
      1. Sad Kitty

        Yes, Seriously, that is what I said. And I stand by it. But thanks for speaking for me!
        I totally NEED an update.

        Reply
          1. Sad Kitty

            No. I would like a follow up to this letter for several reasons. I was, however, being a bit silly with my request of Alison to beg a follow up, until this “seriously” person decided to speak for me in that “We don’t *need* an update” when they could focus on the content of this letter and not my post. Unless you are this “seriously” person. Why so exasperated by what I wrote.

            I know I, and many others here, definitely would like to know what happens with this. 1, because it seems so unreal and 2 because it is absolutely outrageous if true.

            Why am I being fussed at for wanting that?

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Nobody is “fussing” at you for wanting an update. We all want an update. But from your wording–“I know you don’t hound your LW’s for follow ups, but PLEASEEEEEE stay on this LW for a follow-up”–it did sound like you were saying that she should hound this poor OP for a follow-up. Given that OP has a lot going on in her life, nobody needs to be hounding her for information we want but don’t actually need. I’m sure that’s not what you meant, but all we have to go by are words you used.

              Reply
  55. Mando Diao

    I’m curious about the logistics of this…what does the clinic/hospital doing the testing think of this? Are they informing the employer of the results? Are they even allowed to do that? I’d worry about anyone who has a stigmatized disease that can be identified through bloodwork – it’s a massive privacy issue over something that the individuals are presumably already managing on their own.

    Unfortunately, I can see this kind of thing happening on a small scale. My former boss (of a dreaded very small business) once floated the notion of rounding us all up to get tested as bone marrow matches for his brother. OP mentions 100 employees at the company, but I’d wonder if it started out super-small and if they’ve had the same boss the whole time? This whole thing smacks of someone who launched a business, found quick success (hence his barking unreasonable orders) and never had to take a single business course.

    Yes, Mando Diao sniffs out the “I hate small businesses angle” in an organization of 100 people.

    Reply
    1. Jen T

      I work in the field of (deceased) organ donation, and am pretty sure this has to be fake. No transplant center in the US would let it get this far in testing living donors – they’d figure out VERY quickly that lots of people were being coerced into getting tested, and would probably drop this patient entirely. One of the things that would rule someone out as a potential donor is knowing that they’re getting paid (directly or by being allowed to keep their jobs) to “donate”. That’s illegal. And the transplant centers give potential donors many opportunities to back out while saving face (not telling the waiting recipient patient why that potential donor wasn’t a “good match”) to make sure this isn’t happening.

      Also, I’m getting lots of script errors on this page, slowing down my computer like crazy!

      Reply
      1. Sad Kitty

        Yeah, I have to use an ad-blocker most of the time on here these days, because script errors and ads that go awry…

        I am wondering about the legitimacy even though Alison asked us not to harp on it. But that’s precisely why I would really appreciate an update and or more details about this. I am fascinated yet very troubled.

        Reply
  56. GreenTeaPot

    I believe it. I’ve seen all sorts of nonsense and stupidity in the workplace, including catching the boss and a salesperson servicing each other.

    OP, file a complaint. And please update us.

    Good luck.

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      And slightly off topic, this is why I hate that “servicing the customer” phrasing. Because I grew up on a farm. So, for me, that phrase has what you might call “connotations.” So I snickered out loud reading this.

      Reply
      1. Liz

        I’m from the UK, and I have to suppress a snicker every time I hear it over here in the US, forcing myself to mentally replace it with “SERVING the customer”. One of those weird business jargon thingies.

        Reply
  57. Erin

    Disclaimer, I did not read any comments yet.

    But I think you should show this piece with Alison’s response to your coworkers, including the fired ones. Band together. Hire a lawyer together, or at least get a consultation, and approach Mr. Loon as a unit.

    Reply
    1. Florida

      I could not approach Mr. Loon. His past behavior indicates that that will likely result in getting fired. I would talk to an employment lawyer. I would talk to the media. I would file an EEOC complaint.
      Normally, when you have a problem with the boss, it’s best to talk to the boss. In this case, however, I’d advise against it.

      Reply
  58. Sans

    Besides violating the ADA because of the forced medical exam, wouldn’t it also violate the ADA because you’re taking some people who are pregnant or have had cancer and firing them because they can’t donate a liver? Isn’t part of the law about not discriminating against those with medical conditions?

    Reply
  59. Michele

    I wonder how much of this is the boss’ own emotion about trying to save his brother and how much of a, for lack of a better word, needs to realize this is not a reality check. Is it best to approach this boss as a group and discuss that if there is a chance of being fired to not signing, that he can be sued for wrongful termination?

    Reply
  60. Navy Vet

    Alison, this add is really messing with my browser: its the video above the comments. (Using IE)
    If You’re Queen Of England, You Get 2 Birthdays And A Parade

    SPONSORED CONTENT

    Reply
  61. Chriama

    I’m honestly surprised I didn’t see more jokes about buying people, owing your soul to the company store, or things in that line.
    Here’s my joke:
    OP, the bossman only owns you from 9-5. So unless he’s planning to set up some sort of time-sharing arrangement with his brother and your liver, he’s going to have to pay a massive amount of overtime if he wants use of it 24/7.

    Ok but in all seriousness – OP, everyone has pointed out how insane and **illegal** this is. It doesn’t always happen but the law is on your side with this one. Even if you don’t feel comfortable saying anything yourself or organizing your coworkers to protest as a group, I hope you consider reaching out to the employees who were illegally fired and letting them know what Alison has told you here. I can’t imagine being pregnant or having a liver disease and then losing my job – and with it, my health insurance. So please let someone know, however you can, because they might not realize they have rights here either.

    Reply
    1. Chinook

      “OP, the bossman only owns you from 9-5. So unless he’s planning to set up some sort of time-sharing arrangement with his brother and your liver, he’s going to have to pay a massive amount of overtime if he wants use of it 24/7.”

      Only if the OP is non-exempt. But, since he has only a small portion of the OP, would the OT be pro-rated or would he be required to pay her as if her entire body was there?

      Reply
      1. Chriama

        Lol I was wondering if someone would point out the exempt/non-exempt thing. In my opinion “giving use of my liver to my boss’s brother” as a primary job duty does not fall under exemption status.

        Reply
  62. DMC

    Wow. I agree. I had an initial thought of “is this real?” The boss is so outrageous, I hope all the employees all file complaints with the EEOC and any state agency (in CA that would be the DFEH) as well as the labor commissioner, just for good measure. This probably also violates GINA (U.S.). It may even violate some other NONemployment specific laws. I agree, file. File. File. Talk to a few lawyers. Most will give a free consultation and almost all take cases against employers based on things like the ADA on a contingency basis.

    Reply
  63. SimplyAlissa

    Can not even.

    The mind-boggling-ness is just….wow.

    And I’m already dying for a follow up. I need to know this guy gets his comeuppance (and the employees get their due, be it new sane jobs or other rewards), or I’ll just have to give up on humanity.

    The brother though. I have to believe he doesn’t know this is going on. (One hopes.) But when the shit hits the publicity fan, there’s a high chance his name gets dragged along, and I doubt he needs the stress anymore than those poor beleaguered employees.

    Reply
  64. Bob

    Unless the brother is heavily involved in the business so employees all know him, it would be weird to even hear about his health issues. Having said that, the very most I think anyone could do is email their staff with the news, maybe ask for their prayers (if that’s your thing) and give them info on how to donate if they wish (with no pressure). But even that would seem odd if we didn’t all know the brother pretty well.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      Soooo….

      I know a pretty famous doctor who specializes in one specific organ. And he got to treat a royal from some sandy place in the Middle East that I’m not going to name. In the course of this process, the doctor discovered that among the entourage that accompanied said royal was an individual of the same blood type whose job it was to be on standby in case blood or organs were needed. Gah!

      Reply
    2. Snazzy Hat

      Dude, Mr Burns — and Smithers, who requested volunteers — was a LOT more rational when he needed a transfusion. No threats of firing, no withholding of promised compensation (since there was no promise or implication, only assumption), even one of his employees (Carl) implies compatibility but doesn’t donate and isn’t reprimanded.

      “The lion was so happy, he gave Hercules this big… thing of… riches.”
      “How did a lion get rich?”
      “It was the olden days!”

      Reply
  65. Log Lady

    So, like, either the doctor has no idea what’s going on or this doctor is planning on doing this procedure in the back of a van in an ally way. Because, there’s no doctor still with his license who wouldn’t be riding his nopetopus right the hell on out of there with a big ol’ ‘nope, nope nope, nah-ah, eff you, no nope nope.’

    This whole thing reminds of ‘Never Let Me Go’ and that creeps me right out.

    Reply
    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      I think it was on the Captain Awkward comments where someone coined the term “ouroboros of nope.” This situation definitely applies.

      Reply
  66. Anxa

    I’m actually not that shocked.

    I mean, I’m shocked by the audacity and the blatant lack of ethics, but I’m not shocked by the lack of respect for bodily autonomy at work.

    I can count at least 2 instances where I felt significant pressure to donate blood as part of a work-wide or local blood drive. There were no threats of being fired, but the terms “team player,” and “decent people” were used.

    I do not do blood donations. It’s selfish, sure, but not unreasonable. Every triggering event for my blood phobia has the potential to lead to a loss of consciousness, and I don’t want to feel pressured into taking on that risk. I resent the implication that I’m not a decent person because I hate fainting.

    I was pretty grumpy about being teased for hoarding my blood refusing to save lives.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      It’s not selfish. It’s your blood. Donating or not is completely voluntary (or should be), and anyone who gave you grief over it or tried to pressure you into it is a Level 4 Jerk.

      Reply