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!

{ 852 comments… read them below }

          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?!

            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.

              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?!.

            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)

              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.

                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.

      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.

      2. DuckDuckMøøse*

        Can someone help me look for my jaw? It hit the floor and bounced off somewhere…

    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.

      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.”

        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.

    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.)

      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.

    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.

    4. Keegan*

      In Canada we do not have the At Will clause you have in the US, but what a perversion of it.

    5. 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.

    6. Ericka Hokkanen*

      Please also report this to UNOS, the United Network of Organ Sharing. As a transplant recipient, both he and his brother should be knocked down a few!!
      His methods of making the employees sign up to be a donor are similar to buying an organ which is totally illegal in the US. The cost being their job (= to income $) in addition to the very bad taste for organ donation left in the mouth of those employees. This is the type of who jackass that hurts those on the wait list for organs, many of which will die while waiting to get an organ.
      Thank you in advance for this help & this post. Please also consider being an organ donor while you are alive: financial cost of surgery: nothing to you, and you will be loved by another whose live YOU HAVE SAVED!!!!

  1. Bend & Snap*

    I think this is the craziest thing I’ve ever read here, and that’s saying something.

    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.

      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?

      2. BRR*

        I feel like there are a lot of nominees so far this year which is sad because they’re all horrendous.

        1. Alter_ego*

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

          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…

          2. Clt*

            I am literally laughing hysterically at this point with all the responses to this post. I forgot this blog existed and just rediscovered – finally made my way to this post and just can’t. Stop. Laughing.

        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

          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.)

            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

              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.

              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

      3. 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?

      4. 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.

      5. Professional Sweater Folder*

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

        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. :)

          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.

          2. Nina*

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

    2. Shell*

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



    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.

    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.

      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.”

    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!

      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_?

      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.

        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.

          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.

    3. fposte*

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

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

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

    1. Marzipan*

      It probably needs German to do it justice. One of those extremely specific compound words.

      1. INTERROBANG FAN ?!*

        Who does one say in German, “May you become a prison go-cart, scheisskopf!” ?

  2. 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…

      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.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Eh…let’s consider that his brother is very sick and may not want/need the publicity.

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            I really don’t think the privacy of the brother (who may well be complicit in this scheme) outweighs the harm to a hundred other people who are being used in actual *organ trafficking.*

            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.

            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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

            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.

              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.

          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.

        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.

          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.

            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.

              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.

                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.*


                  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?

            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.

              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.

                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.

        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.

          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.

            1. fposte*

              Mike, you’re getting into a weird area of telling women how seriously they need to take reporting rape.

              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.

                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.)

                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.

            2. 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.

          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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

          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?

              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.”

              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.

            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.

              1. fposte*

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

          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!)

          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.

            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.

              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.

              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.

        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.

          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.

    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.

      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.

        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.

          1. neverjaunty*

            While this is correct, I would not assume that a boss this crazy is hiring ethical medical staff.

            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.

              1. TL -*

                (and, also, if you’re looking for a transplant team, you don’t have a huge number of doctors to shop from, generally)

              2. 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.

              3. 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.

                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.

            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.

            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!

        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).

          1. Ted Mosby*

            I’m not defending the boss but those are really rare because they’re so difficult to set up.

            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?

              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.

              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!

          2. 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.

        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.

        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).

          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?

        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.

          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.

            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?

                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.

                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.

        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.

          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.

            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?

              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….

            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.

          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.

          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).

          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.

            1. nonegiven*

              What if he’s planning medical tourism? Not every country has the same rules about organ trafficking.

        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.

          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.

          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.

            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.

      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.

      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.

    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).

    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.

      1. C*

        I don’t think anyone will disagree. I’d go far enough to name this guy “Worst Boss of ANY year EVER”

        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?

            1. Serafina*

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

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Well, I feel confident that none of you were reading in 2007 when I started, because I think only like three people were. So there’s that at least.

                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.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I agree. I thought nothing would top the boss who interrupted a funeral, but this is worse!

        1. Fafaflunkie*

          Agreed 1 googolplex %. I thought the boss interrupting a funeral took the cake, but this? Just wow.

        2. 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.

            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.

      2. 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!”

    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!

    1. Amber T*


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

      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*

  3. 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?

    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.

        1. AnonInSC*

          Yes – I found it later. I think the link is in moderation. Episode 580 for anyone looking.

      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…

        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.”

          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.

    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?

    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.

    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.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

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

      I shudder.

  4. 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.

    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.”

      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.

      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.

      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.”

      4. Creag an Tuire*

        “Have you ever watched ‘Repo!’? Long story short, it was a documentary about my office.”

        1. Violet Fox*

          “No, not the part about drug addiction, and f-ed up relationships, the part about organs.”

    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…”

    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.”

      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.

    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.

    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.”

    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
      “…I can’t feel nothing at all.”

    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.

      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.

        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.”

          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.

      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.)

  5. 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***”.

  6. 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?

    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.

      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!

        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.

        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.

    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.

  7. 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.

      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.

        1. Ms. Didymus*

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

          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

        2. animaniactoo*

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

          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.

            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.

        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.

        4. Lady H*

          Amen! Said this below, but Dan Savage didn’t invent this term. He just made it popular.

    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.

  8. 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?

    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.”

      1. NutellaNutterson*

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

    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.

      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.

        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.

  9. Batman's a Scientist*

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

    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.)

      1. Sadsack*

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

        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?

      2. 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.

    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?

  10. 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.

    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!

      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.

        1. 2horseygirls*

          Has a vaguely extortion-ish vibe to it . . .give my brother your liver, and you get to keep your job.

          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.

            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?

    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.

      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.

        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.

          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!

            1. neverjaunty*

              True! And this is why you talk to a lawyer, because they can advise you on these things. ;)

        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.

  11. 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.

    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.”

      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.


      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.

    2. Juli G.*

      Yeah, I am not judging anyone who doesn’t immediately quit or goes along with this in the interim.

    3. 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.

      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.

        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.)

          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.”)

              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.

          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.

          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.)

          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.

        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.

        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.

          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.

            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?

              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.

              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.

          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.

            1. Lily Rowan*

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

              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!

                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.

        5. Cleopatra Jones*

          I don’t think ‘permanent black mark’ on your record is a thing after high school.

          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!

            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.

          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.

        6. 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.”

          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!”

        7. 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.

        8. 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.

          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…

        9. 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.

        10. 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.

        11. 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.”

      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.

        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.

      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.

    4. 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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

            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.

              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?

                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.

    5. 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.

      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!”.

    6. 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.

      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?

        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.

          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.

        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.

    7. 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.”

    8. 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.

      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.

        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?

          1. Charlotte Collins*

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

            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.)

          2. Ultraviolet*

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

      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.

  12. 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.

    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.

      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?

      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.

    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?

    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.

  13. 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…

      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

            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.

              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.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Given the state of Republican politics as regards certain of my internal organs, yes, it was.

    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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

    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

        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.

          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…)

          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.

        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.

    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).

      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?

    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.

  16. 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…

    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.)

    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.

      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.

      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)

          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!

      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.

    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.

      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.

        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.

        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. ;)

      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”.

        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.

          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.

          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.

          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.

            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

              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.

                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.

        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.

      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!

    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.

  17. 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.

    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!

  18. 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. :(

    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”.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

    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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Ha, that would be such a boring movie- “woman leads healthy lifestyle after bone graft”

      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.

      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.

        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

      4. KR*

        I was thinking this – even if I was in serious need of a kidney I would still be outraged if someone did this.

  21. 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.)

  22. 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.

    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.

    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.

  23. 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…

      1. F.*

        Not to get off topic, but I SO want a coffee mug with that on it! (why yes, I AM an HR manager)

    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.”

  24. 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.

    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 :(

  25. 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.

    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!

          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!)

  26. 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?

    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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

            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.

          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.

        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.

    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.

    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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

      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.

    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. :/

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

      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.

    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.

  27. 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!

    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.

      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.

    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.

      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.

        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.

          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.

            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).

            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.

      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.

        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.

  28. 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.

  29. KT*


    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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. Apollo Warbucks*

    Yikes, this is so far outside the bounds of what is normal I don’t even know where to start.

  33. 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.

    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.

      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.

      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.

  34. 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.

    1. Temperance*

      I would hope that she would shut that down immediately. That’s that medical ethics dictate.

    2. 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 :)

      1. Allison*

        OH! Either I saw that episode and totally forgot, or it’s one of the few I haven’t seen yet.

  35. 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?

    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.

  36. 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.

    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.

      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.

    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.

      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.

  37. 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.

    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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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**

    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).

    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.

    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.

  40. 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)

  41. Sad Kitty*


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


  42. LBK*

    Wow. I’m pretty sure Jack Donaghy’s “Kidney Now!” fundraiser was not meant to be taken as inspiration.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

    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.

    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.)

      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.

    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.

      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!).

    4. neverjaunty*

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

    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.

    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.

      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.

    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.

  45. 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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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)

      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”.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

    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.

      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.

  48. silvertech*

    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.

  49. 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.

      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.

        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?

        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.

        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. ;)

        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.

      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!

    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.

  50. 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?

    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!!!!!!

      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.)

  51. HRish Dude*

    Why do I have this suspicion that this boss refers to his workplace as “like a family”?

  52. 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

    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.

      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!”

        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.

      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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

      1. Ife*

        This is my new favorite line. I am writing it on a post it note and it’s going on my monitor right now.

    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.

  57. 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!!

    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.

      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.

          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?

            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.

  58. 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.

    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!

      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.

  59. 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.

    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.

      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.

  60. 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.

    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.

  61. 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?

  62. 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?

  63. 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.

    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?

      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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. newlyhr*

    I have heard such crazy things that nothing surprises me anymore. Get to the EEOC right now.

  67. 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.

    1. Katie the Fed*


      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!

        1. Katie the Fed*

          There were no complications so I’m not sure what the plan was, but it was never needed.

    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!”

  68. 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.

    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.

  69. 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.

    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.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Seriously, screw those people with a backhoe, and I say this both as someone who has been a blood donor and as someone who has had a life-saving transfusion.

    2. sam*

      The one time I accidentally pressured someone to donate blood was on 9/11. After spending the morning with co-workers not working and seeing what was going on (and trying to get in touch with friends and family who worked downtown to make sure everyone was OK), a few of us decided to leave the office to go to the nearby blood center to try to donate, and on our way out, I ran into another colleague and asked him to come along, and he gave some excuse for declining.

      He put his arm around me to hug me, said he would meet me afterwards. When a few of us met up at a bar afterwards, he was basically “thanks for accidentally almost outing me at work”.

      Yeah. I forgot that he was gay. AND still in the closet with most people at work.

      I’ve never pressured anyone ever again.

  70. Tau*

    My jaw is not visible in this post because it hit the floor. OP, this is completely ridiculous and so unreasonable it can’t see reasonable with a telescope.

    Also – please don’t let yourself be pressured into anything you’re not comfortable with! Your feeling of “I am just DONE with hospitals and being poked and prodded” is completely valid, and if you don’t want to undergo testing, that is absolutely your right and nobody gets to tell you otherwise.

  71. LisaD*

    Question for anyone in the medical field: Isn’t Terrible Boss putting his sick brother at major risk? If reality is anything like how the media portrays organ donation, it seems like the hospital could convene decisionmakers and decide that it’s too risky to perform a transplant on this individual now that they know some of the “donors” being tested are actually people who were forced to be tested with the threat of job loss. If some people were extorted, how can they trust that ANY donor volunteering for this patient is truly volunteering?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Every potential donor is subject to rigorous protocols to ensure that they’re donating free from coercion, so I don’t think this really puts the brother at any additional risk. The clinicians are obligated to treat the patient (recipient) no matter how little they like him as a person, even if he is coercing people or involved in the coercion of people to donate their organs to him. I’m sure knowing this could color their perception of the brother, but the decision-makers should not be denying care for a reason like this. At most, they’d be carefully monitoring their informed consent procedures to make sure they’re operating properly.

        1. KR*

          That was my concern – when this eventually hits whatever transplant/employment rights authority could this have an impact on the brother receiving his kidney and what recourse would he have when he discovers this is happening to say, “This wasn’t my idea!” Assuming of course that it isn’t his idea and he isn’t supporting it. These are more hypothetical since I’m assuming the brother isn’t reading this, but I was curious.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            No. To the best of my knowledge, things like this have no standing on your position to receive an organ, whether from a living or a deceased donor. As long as they find a donor that they feel confident is donating with full informed consent and lack of coercion, the recipient will be eligible for transplant. I actually don’t think there is anything non-medical that affects your eligibility as a transplant recipient.

  72. Rubyrose*

    Time to contact your local TV station that does investigating reporting? Have someone who has already been terminated do it.

  73. Amber Rose*

    I believe it. If I had a dying family member that I loved, I might do something crazy to try and save them.

    Not that any of this is any less horrifying, mind you. It’s truly, truly awful and I strongly encourage LW to speak with a lawyer. I’m just saying it’s believable.

  74. Emmy*

    Alison, do we know that letter writer is in the US? Sorry, if that’s a silly question, I just thought it might change her options.

      1. Emmy*

        Oh, that’s good. I mean the whole thing is sickly bad, but at least we know there are laws in this case.

  75. Interviewer*

    And here I was, dreading the annual United Way campaign. OP, you just gave me a brand-new perspective on workplace strong-arm tactics.

    1. Florida*

      LOL. I have had to run the UW campaign at work. That is not a task I’d wish upon my worst enemy. Your comment gave me a chuckle.

    2. Rebecca*

      Ugh, the United Way. I haven’t thought about that in a long time! I remember those days. I barely had enough money to feed myself, and management hounded us for donations.

  76. TootsNYC*

    The OP may not need to do anything.

    Those fired employees are going to go file for unemployment, and they’re going to have an opportunity to say, “I was fired because I didn’t want to go be tested for the liver transplant–even though I had a doctor’s note! Am I eligible for unemployment still?”

    As Anon For This points out upstream: This is weird enough that it’s going to be huge fun for the government folks who get to enforce the law here. You’ll make their day!

      1. MizShrew*

        Wouldn’t they be obligated to report it to an agency that does have standing, if they know something illegal is going on? Not sure how that works.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think they have a legal obligation, no. And in my experience with them, they don’t like to get involved with anything they don’t have to get involved in (and sometimes not even then).

        2. I've read that study!*

          Nope. Government agencies are very segregated into their own areas (silos) and often do not even know what other agencies are responsible for. Even when they do know that another agency has jurisdiction, government employees are often actively discouraged from providing that information because it is not part of their job. I believe this culture has developed because different government agencies are often not allowed to share specific information by law. This is why in the U.S. you have to file change of address forms with multiple government agencies.

      2. TootsNYC*

        You don’t think they’d call the EEOC themselves? Or suggest that the ex-employee do so?

        1. sam*

          they’re bureaucrats, not lawyers or employment advocates. And i don’t mean that to sound disparaging. It’s just… they have a specific job to do, one which (given the past few years) they are probably overworked and underpaid for themselves.

          In addition, from what I remember when I applied for unemployment, there’s not a lot of personal interaction – most of it is done online these days, unless there is an issue.

          1. Anon for This One*

            At least some of the enforcement bureaucracies DO designate people to answer questions and point people in the right direction if they arrive there with an issue but should actually go somewhere else (which makes sense, since many lawyers and law students don’t know the differences between the EEOC, DoL, OSHA, NLRB and various state and local agencies) but unemployment is a bit different since they exist to give benefits to people who qualify, not to bust bad guys.

  77. DonateLife*

    Dear OP, I work in organ donation and this is atrocious. If you feel comfortable doing so, please call the hospital and ask to speak with the ethics department. Explain to them what is happening, they will be able to keep your complaint anonymous and investigate the situation. I won’t go into it, but this wrong on more levels than just employment violations and any ethics representative would be grateful for your call. Please, please consider reporting this.

    1. TootsNYC*

      That might be the gentlest way–they’d have standing, and maybe even motivation, to call the Boss and say, “This is illegal, it’s unfair, and you should stop doing it.”

  78. Lily*

    Honestly, I’d report it not only to the involved medical professionals, but also to the cops. Not sure if it actually is a crime, but it’s their job to check this out.^^

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm, I doubt there’s anything they could do. I think reporting to the hospital/health professionals and triggering an investigation might be better–and if there could be criminal charges from this, they will call the police themselves. They will also have credibility, whereas a random anonymous caller probably won’t.

      1. Lily*

        not anonymously. Going there, making a formal complaint (not sure if this is the correct word). But then, I’m not from the US, so I don’t know. In my country I’m pretty sure it would trigger a criminal investigation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s actually not their job to check out things not in their jurisdiction though — same as if you reported, say, your employer discriminating against you for your sex or race.

      1. Lily*

        It’s not the job of the cops to check if this is criminal? not “illegal”, but a crime?

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I’m really confused by this too. I’m in Canada and my first step would be to inform the police.

          1. Chinook*

            “I’m really confused by this too. I’m in Canada and my first step would be to inform the police.”

            If AAM is talking jurisdiction and legality, that makes sense. In Canada, the concept of stopping an investigation just because it is out your jurisdiction isn’t a big concept here (probably because we have a national police force that also works at the municipal level). Say what you will about the RCMP, but they do have the ability to handle both local, national an international crimes all at the same time (and even out of the same detachment).

        2. fposte*

          Not at all an expert here, but my guess is that it would really depend on who you talked to at the police station. This isn’t a situation where a beat cop has somebody to walk in and arrest from a 911 call–this is a crime that would involve some figuring out just what to charge somebody under and whether it’s actually a federal crime (organ trafficking would be, though apparently only one person has ever been convicted of it in the US). I suspect that most police would consider the fact that ample civil remedy exists to take care of the problem–it would be luck to get somebody with a wild hair who really wanted to pin this guy to the wall and was willing to do the work to make it happen.

        3. LBK*

          Not really. Involving the police is more about getting backup from someone with legal authority to use force, which isn’t applicable here. A lawyer is more appropriate since there isn’t immediate risk of physical harm or a crime scene to investigate; they’re the actual authorities on the law and will know the appropriate charges to bring, whereas a cop mostly just collects evidence to support those charges (although in civil cases that’s usually done by the lawyers as well). If a lawyer is able to put together a case that supports a warrant for the boss’s arrest, that’s when the police would get involved to actually physically round him up and take him in.

        4. Aisling*

          Firing employees is not a criminal matter, and that’s the only concrete thing that’s happened here so far. Pressure to be tested, firings if they won’t, would fall under EEOC or other civil matters. Police can and will only investigate if it looks like a criminal matter. Otherwise, it’s civil law, which they don’t handle, and they’ll tell you to consult a lawyer.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s not a form of extortion?

        I wonder if OP could go to the DA’s office and see if they would prosecute such a case.

        1. LBK*

          DA makes more sense than the police, but you’re actually required to file through the EEOC before you can bring a lawsuit against an employer for something under the EEOC’s purview (with the exception of violations of the Equal Pay Act, which are allowed to go directly to court). If they dismiss your case, they’ll give you a notice of right to sue, which authorizes you to then bring a lawsuit (essentially as a form of appeal).

  79. RVA Cat*

    It sounds to me like the owner is no longer in a rational frame of mind to operate a business. I think the only way to salvage the company at this point is for him to step down or at least take a leave of absence due to his brother’s illness and, of course, immediately rescind this illegal order and reinstate the fired employees.

    1. fposte*

      I think the chances of this are right up there with the OP of the next post winning the lottery.

  80. CoffeeLover*

    Do you think asking, rather than demanding, for an organ donor would have been appropriate? I.e., if the boss said: “My bro is sick and needs XYZ donor. Please let me know if you may be a match and would be willing to donate.” Would that be ok? It still feels a bit icky, but at the same time, if my bro needed a kidney I would be reaching out to as many people as possible. Besides, sometimes truly generous people do volunteer to give a stranger a kidney. Thoughts?

    1. MizShrew*

      I still think it’s inappropriate — the boss/employee dynamic means that even a “please let me know” plea is going to feel like an obligation to some people under the boss. Especially in an emotional situation like this.

      I guess the boss could have put out the word about organ donation in general, with more of the vibe that, “since my brother’s illness I’ve come to understand the importance of organ donation. Please consider learning more about being a donor at XYZsite-dot-com.” Maybe? Then if someone came to him of their own accord and offered to be tested, MAYBE that would be okay. It’s still on the line, to me. The quid-pro-quo element is just built into the boss/employee hierarchy, even if the boss isn’t bat-poo crazy like this guy.

  81. Nobody*

    This reminds me of a similar (but far less extreme) situation at my old job! I actually thought about writing to AAM but decided against it because I figured people would assume it was fake.

    At my old job, a director needed a kidney transplant. He sent an e-mail to the entire company (over 10,000 employees) begging people to get tested for donating a kidney to him. He added that even if someone wasn’t a match for him, he might be able to set up a donation trade/chain. Now, he wasn’t nearly as much of a jerk as the guy in this letter because he wasn’t threatening to fire anyone for not wanting to get tested, and in fact he stated in his e-mail that testing is completely voluntary and confidential, but I still thought it was highly inappropriate for a high-level manager to ask employees under him to donate a kidney.

    The worst part is that one of my coworkers sent out a site-wide e-mail (just to the 500 or so employees at our location, not the whole company like the director) advertising a fundraiser he was holding for his mother’s cancer treatment, and he got reprimanded for unprofessional use of company e-mail.

    1. fposte*

      And somebody noted above the tale of Debbie Stevens, who did donate a kidney into a chain that benefited her boss–and then got fired by that boss. For not coming back to work fast enough.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Holy crap! I’ve been trying to find out what ended up happening since it was 2012 but can’t find any updates. I guess the lawsuit is still in process. What a horrible story.

  82. Observer*

    OP, this is the most outrageous thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Talk to all of your co-workers (after hours if you can) and urge anyone who goes for testing to tell the the center why they are showing up. Send emails to each other on your personal email, so you have documentation that these conversations happened. As others have noted, if anyone says they are coerced, the testing phase will never happen.

    There are two good reasons why you want documentation. One is that I wouldn’t be shocked if the unemployment people / eeoc were a bit disbelieving of the matter – it just SOOO outrageous. And you can’t trust your boss to tell the truth. These emails will be proof of what’s going on – enough to get unemployment, and enough for the eeoc to launch an investigation. And, if you everyone tells the center that they were coerced, that is something they probably are allowed to share with the EEOC. Also, concerted activity is also protected by law, so that’s something to look at if you decide to go to a lawyer.

    Please send your complaint to the EEOC. And urge ALL of your co-workers to do the same. It’s illegal to fire you for this, and if your boss does do that, that’s a slam dunk for you. You can also start the process very easily and they will keep your name confidential unless you decide to actually press the charge. (Even then it might be possible to keep your name confidential.) If your boss sent a memo or an email, make copies so that you can present this to any all relevant parties. Also, your boss is not allowed to fire you for going to the EEOC, and they tend to take that stuff very seriously.

    Another really good thing to do is to tip off the local press. Again, if you have a memo laying this out, you might want to send a copy of this with explanatory and additional details. If you are worried about your Boss’ reaction, and can’t afford to get fired, then set up a throwaway account and use a library computer to send it. Sure, it won’t protect you from the FBI, but it will protect you from your boss and most news outlets.

    I’m not saying that you MUST do any of these things. But, really they are a good idea in many respects. And, ultimately, getting this boss stopped is to your benefit as well. Also, as others have pointed out, if you leave or get fired from a job that is in the news for its crazy behavior, it’s MUCH easier to deal with the “why did you leave” question.

    Lots of luck with this!

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. I would strongly suggest that several of you save the memo to the cloud (DropBox, etc.) as I am guessing it may disappear from the company email system pretty damn quick once they start hearing from lawyers.

  83. Lou*

    My father needed a heart transplant, so I understand desperation, but wowzers- this is so so so far beyond what’s normal.
    Good luck OP.

  84. LD*

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so if the “devil’s advocate” role is still available, here goes:
    Yes, this boss must be out of his mind to make such an invasive and illegal demand on his employees. Maybe he’s also out of his mind with love and concern for his brother and is making an ill-conceived attempt to save his brother’s life. Still inappropriate, still illegal, still over-the-top brutal to his employees, and also motivated by love and concern.
    OP, I am so sorry you are in this predicament. Do what you need to protect yourself and if possible, do what you can as anonymously as possible to bring this situation to light via legal means, EEOC, anonymous media tip, whatever you might feel is okay for you to do. This situation sounds like a nightmare for everyone involved. You have my sympathy.

    1. Observer*

      At what point do we stop trying to find the silver lining to someone’s behavior? When someone commits murder?

  85. Ignis Invictus*

    Not sure how fast the EEOC responds, but the NLRB’s response time for an initial complaint is insanely quick. Start talking to your fired employees about it (if you’re not already) see if there’s anyone who was reprimanded for discussing this insanity with other employees, that’s enough to constitute “concerted protected activity”. Then file with both the EEOC and the NLRB. There may also be an OSHA violation in there somewhere. Good luck.

  86. Squirrel*

    Oh God, I clicked on the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” ticky box when I commented earlier and now my inbox is filled with this thread. :-/

    1. Nina*

      Yeah….I learned that the hard way during a weekend open thread. I thought I was just subscribing to the comments in the particular thread, not the whole post. Soooo many reminders from my inbox!

  87. Kathlynn*

    So, I just have to ask, how do you deal with this in future interviews. Before this letter, I’d have a hard time believing this type of story. I would have probably assumed they were lying. (I don’t interview people though) I’ve dealt with more then one chronic liar whose accounting of their lives is the “lived 100 years in 20” type of experiences. So, I’m bias.

    1. So Very Anonymous*

      I was thinking about this too. Maybe something along the lines of “extremely inappropriate use of private medical information”?

    2. Undine*

      Violated the ADA by requiring all employees to take a non-employment-related medical test?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The flip side of that coin is how does OP learn to trust her new employer?

      I guess if you do not believe the person then you cannot hire them. I live in an area of small communities. It would not take too much talking around to find out if the story is true.

      Barring that, then I would go by the rest of her resume. Did the rest of the resume check out and seem okay? Do her skills/background knowledge/etc seem to be consistent with her experiences listed on her resume?

      Bottom line, if an employee has decided not to trust an employer there is not much anyone can do or say to change that. Likewise, if an interviewer has decided not to trust a job applicant there is very little the applicant can say to change that. Sometimes otherwise good employers miss out on hiring great employees. It happens.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Honestly? If the OP can afford to file a complaint and deal with that hassle, it may be their best path, purely because they then have an *actual filed complaint and its results to reference* in stating it happened.

      Also, print and retain a copy of the memo. Yes, in theory it could be faked, but … a little more credibility, because who would bother to fake it?

  88. How Dare They*

    Whoa. Wow. This could be reported to headquarters, to unemployment when you file for being terminated without cause, and even possibly to the police. Possibly to the Department of Health and Human Services, to OSHA, and I would certainly tell the physicians performing the testing that you are doing so under duress.

    You should absolutely file a lawsuit. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong!!!
    Good luck.

    1. How Dare They*

      Oh, and yes, as someone suggested, the District Attorney might be more appropriate than the police, although asking the police whether a complaint can be filed isn’t a bad idea, and they may point you in the direction of the DA.

  89. nicolefromqueens*

    I can’t imagine the doctors would be glad to hear something along the lines of “i, and dozens of my coworkers, are only here because our boss will definitely fire us otherwise. None of us are interested in donating, even if we’re a match.” Your boss is wasting their time.

  90. BoredBrains*

    I’m hoping that this letter is not actually real because… seriously. What the… At the same time, I have worked for some nutcases, which makes the letter not completely surprising.

    Worst case scenario, maybe all employees could get together and threaten to quit en masse?

  91. Sheepla*

    I haven’t read all the comments so maybe this has been addressed, but there is no way this letter is legitimate. My mother had a liver transplant last year so I know a lot about the subject. The only time doctors do live donor transplants for livers anymore are for parents to young children. Believe me, I looked hard into this to try to donate part of my liver to my mother.

    If the LW had used “kidney transplant” instead of liver, it might have been more believable, but I’m calling BS on this letter.

    Having said that, if you are not signed up to be an organ donor, and it’s due to “just haven’t gotten around to it” rather than due to personal beliefs, please consider doing so. Thousands of people die each year while waiting on organ transplant lists. I can tell you that my mother’s organ donor saved her life.

    1. Granite*

      The problem with that assumption is that folks writing in often change details in an attempt to ensure anonymity. Maybe it was a kidney, and they changed it to liver to disguise themselves. It makes no difference in how crazy it is.

    2. Heather Lynn*

      I really think OP and anyone else who writes in would have better things to do than make up elaborate stories. What does one even gain from it as they are all anonymous? Her story can be truthful and that really isn’t up for us to decide. I quickly looked online and found more information on what you reference and Transportliving.org doesn’t mention anything you have. Here is the link: http://transplantliving.org/living-donation/facts/organs/ It does not state anywhere on their web site that it has to be from mother to child or that they have to be related. This is directly from the website “liver -Individuals can donate a segment of the liver, which has the ability to regenerate and regain full function.”

      1. Sheepla*

        Fair enough. I noted after I posted that AAM asked us not to debate legitimacy of letter so my bad.

        Also not here to debate what can and can’t be done with liver transplants since that’s far off topic, so I’ll just walk away.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, maybe it was something specific to your mom’s case? I just quickly googled, and found a lot of stuff like this, which is from the University of Maryland Medical Center: “The best candidates for living liver donation are family members or close, personal friends of the recipient.” Or this from UCSF Medical Center: “A living donor doesn’t have to be a blood relative of the liver recipient but you must have a compatible blood type.” (So not just parents to kids.)

      1. Sheepla*

        Believe me, I found it all over online as well. And I had all the printouts every time we went to see the doctors (my mother was on two lists in two states) and each time in person the doctors (different states, different hospitals) said “that’s not really done except for in cases of parent to child.” So I agree it is not the rule, it is just what they tell me happens in real life. It’s frustrating because all the links online give you hope and then the doctor shoots you down. I hope there are places that do it regularly and I hope the LW’s boss finds a donor for his brother (though absolutely not be these means).

        I thought I had a basic understanding about the organ donor process until I actually went through it.

      2. Undine*

        UCSF says they’ve done 50 adult-to-adult transplants since 2000, which is a little over three a year. Since they have six surgeons in their sidebar, that means less than one per surgeon per year (although there might not have been six surgeons in 2000). So it’s clearly really rare. But his brother may have been one of those who qualify.

        To me, the rareness would imply that it’s much more risky for the donor somehow.

  92. Jady*

    So while I acknowledge this is absurd, crazy, illegal, etc….

    I’m wondering if the boss is offering anything in return for the “donation” of a person’s liver, out side of keeping their job.

    I mean let’s just imagine this boss gets away with this, finds a match, and the employee agrees to be a donor and go through with it……. does the donor get anything at all? A raise, promotion, all expenses year long paid vacation after recovery….. anything at all? I sure as hell would expect some kind of overly generous reward/thank you.

    But IF THEY DO get something, is that also illegal? Would that be considered buying an organ? Or bribery?

  93. Adora Belle Dearheart*

    I absolutely, 100% believe this is something that could happen, as my husband’s former boss did something exactly like this.

    The Boss needed a kidney. He told the employees that donating one would be a simple outpatient procedure, so they all got tested. The woman who had been his office manager since he opened the company turned out to be a match, but since she’s a smart lady she talked to her doctor before deciding to go through with the procedure. The doc clued her in to the fact that kidney transplants are actually a BIG DEAL, so she decided not to go through with it.

    All of a sudden, Boss didn’t need an office manager anymore. FUNNY, THAT.

    I am SO GLAD my husband no longer works for that jackass.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        I’ve been trying to find follow-up to this story but can’t seem to find a dang thing. I’m curious about it.

        1. Mookie*

          In October 2012, the New York State Division on Human Rights found probable cause for a discrimination lawsuit against the company, and apparently she and her lawyer were preparing at the time to sue for $15 million, but, as you say, we’ve heard nothing since. I’d also like to know what happened.

  94. SystemsLady*

    My husband is in the military. His response to me sending this to him: “You know, the military sucks sometimes, but on days like today we get to tour some pretty cool places. And they don’t try to take my liver.”

    He’s also recently ran into another officer defecating inappropriately (though not bagging it up and putting it in lunch boxes!), so this year’s former cake taker had left him unimpressed.

  95. 3D Queen*

    I’ve been waiting to see what the insane story was going to be after Allison posted about disclaimers on the weekend open thread, and this is somehow actually worse than I could’ve imagined. Wow. (FWIW I think that disclaimer was perfect).

    OP, I just wanted to say CONGRATS ON BEATING CANCER. You deserve better!

  96. Rat him out!*

    If true, here’s what I would recommend; Go for the testing, but, make sure that you tell everyone involved in seeing if you are a potential donor the exact reason you are “willing” to be tested.

    As someone who did undergo such testing (for a family member) I can guarantee you that they will take notice as that is one of the frequent questions asked of me (“was I doing this willingly and without any pressure?”)

    And, get everyone else in your office to do the same. The medical professionals will put a quick stop to it quickly. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss got called on the carpet for it.

  97. anniep*

    This actually happened, to a lesser degree, at my current job. Company owner needed a kidney transplant and called in all the upper management to ask them to a) get tested and b) ask their staff to get tested. This was a request only though—no strong-arm tactics, thank God! One staff member (a very senior person) ended up being a match and donating…Rumor had it that he was in the doghouse for a sexual harassment lawsuit and this was his way of gaining absolution!

  98. SenatorMeathooks*

    My conspiracy theory is that Boss is doing this in order to out anyone with a illness or condition that would drive up the company’s health insurance costs.

    There is no SickBrother. *waves hands mysteriously*

    Still illegal.

  99. AmyR*

    Well, I would ask an attorney if you should sign up to be a donor and let the medical evaluation disqualify you or if it would be more profitable and certain that you should refuse, be let go and then sue the company. There is a difference between right-to-work situations and being ordered to hand over part of your liver or lose your job.

  100. GK*

    I am a liver transplant recipient. I would hate to think that anyone would ever be pressured into being a donor. While my eventual donor was deceased, several people were tested to be live donors for my behalf, but all on their own volitions. Waiting for a transplant ant is a harrowing experience. They were about to move me to a hospice when the transplant happened. The problem is that, while over 90% of the population agree with the concept of organ transplant, only around 25% take the few minutes to register as a donor. It’s not like on TV. Not everyone who needs a transplant gets one. Roughly 20 people die each day across North America each day waiting for a transplant. Still, threatening someone to be a donor is very wrong.

  101. GK*

    I am a liver transplant recipient. I would hate to think that anyone would ever be pressured into being a donor. While my eventual donor was deceased, several people were tested to be live donors for my behalf, but all on their own volitions. Waiting for a transplant ant is a harrowing experience. They were about to move me to a hospice when the transplant happened. The problem is that, while over 90% of the population agree with the concept of organ transplant, only around 25% take the few minutes to register as a donor. It’s not like on TV. Not everyone who needs a transplant gets one. Roughly 20 people die each day across North America each day waiting for a transplant. Still, threatening someone to be a donor is very wrong.

  102. Bazinga*

    I wouldn’t get tested out of general principle. However, the owner would have no way to find out if anyone is a match, unless that person told him. When people test to be a match, they’re told anonymously. It would be a whopping HIPAA violation for the doc to tell the owner if anyone matched.


    THAT IS ILLEGAL !!!! All the employees need to file a LAWSUIT AGAINST this ASSHOLE !!!!

  104. SEC*

    I hope one of the employees who is forced to undergo testing ends up being a match and the refuses and quits. I also hope someone in the office (or EVERYONE in the office) sues.

  105. Ang Hunt*

    So how does this compare with requiring you to be an organ donor?
    Per their website career Faq..
    One of the requirements of the position is to support organ and tissue donation. Is that really required?
    Yes, because of the nature and focus of our work, we require all SightLife Surgical employees support organ and tissue donation.

  106. Kathy Wereb*

    Wow! I definitely would get out of there fast! He sounds like a loon!

    I once had my boss threaten to dock my pay & cut my hours in half because I wouldn’t agree to come in on my day off to cover a co-workers planned vacation day. He kept telling me I needed to be a ‘team player’, that I HAD to because it was an emergency, blah blah blah. Even when I reminded him that he had come to me at least 2 months previous, (and the weeks in between) with this planned ’emergency’ vacation, and I had already said no because, well, it’s MY DAY OFF and I had already made plans with my husband (it was our anniversary), he still insisted that I had no choice but to cancel my plans and cover. I reported him to the aboves, and while I kept my hours and my pay, and didn’t have to cover that day, they gave him a light slap on the wrist, and he made sure to make my work environment extremely unpleasant in the ensuing weeks. I complained again, nothing was done, and I quit.

    I was only dealing with a bully manager, this person is dealing with an owner who is possibly risking someone’s life for a surgery, I’d definitely be reporting him.

  107. Database Developer Dude*

    This tops the ‘can’t come in two hours late to go to your own college graduation’ letter by far as the best reason to quit a job with no notice, regardless of whether or not you have something lined up.

    I already knew something like this was illegal. If it had come to me, I’d already be talking lawyer, even before they fired me.

  108. Safetykats*

    I would love to hear an update on this, if one is available. This is a horrifying thing for OP and all their coworkers, but also for the boss’s brother. Because, as at least one commenter pointed out, it is illegal to coerce someone to donate an organ, or to pay them to do so, the most sure way for the brother to be dropped from consideration for donation would be for dozens of people to sign up for testing and report to the transplant center that they had been told they would be fired if they didn’t volunteer to donate. No transplant center would be involved with that kind of scheme, and no transplant center would want to waste resources testing potential donors who would ultimately be disqualified as soon as they were asked why they wanted to donate (which often doesn’t happen until the psycho-social evaluation, which is often conducted only after the initial rounds of testing). I sincerealy hope this isn’t they way it went down, but I’m kind of afraid it was the likely outcome.

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