my coworker is breaking her paid quarantine, company expects people to keep working after they quit, and more

It’s five answers to five questions and a sixth thing. Here we go…

1. My coworker is in quarantine with pay — and doing deliveries on the side

The place I work at still needs to be open despite the pandemic. The work cannot be done from home. Our managers are doing what they can to make me and my coworkers safe even though we can’t work remotely.

Two of my coworkers are off work because they were exposed to COVID-19. They are in self isolation with full pay. I live with my uncle, who is staying home as much as possible during this. We are having the pharmacy deliver his medication and other things he needs. I was home for the second delivery. The delivery person was Lisa, one of my coworkers who was supposed to be at home and in self isolation. I am 100% sure it is her. I even double-checked my doorbell cam to make sure it was her. She left immediately when she saw me.

I’m not her boss. Her title is higher than me but she isn’t a manager. If Lisa is getting full pay from my work and working another job, is it any of my business? (I don’t know if she was really exposed and needs to self isolate and is still going out anyway, or if she lied about being exposed to get paid time off. We haven’t had any COVID-19 cases in our city or the surrounding area, but everyone is still being as careful as possible). I feel like I should tell my boss and show the video from the doorbell camera, but at the same time I don’t want to tattle if it is none of my concern. Do you believe I should stay our of it or tell?

This is awful either way. If she lied about being exposed to get two weeks off with pay, she’s taking advantage of a crisis and policies that are intended to help people who truly need it. If she was really exposed and is doing deliveries anyway (to sick people, of all things), she’s potentially exposing dozens of people to the virus (which could ultimately mean hundreds/thousands, given the exponential nature of infection), while being paid to stay home and quarantine.

Given how horrible either of the options are … yeah, I think you’ve got to tell your boss. It’s not “I want to get Lisa in trouble.” It’s “I’m aware of a major policy violation and potential public health risk, and I have a responsibility not to cover it up.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My company expects people to keep working long after they quit

I’ve been planning to leave my toxic job for several months now and will be giving my notice next week. I am moving across the country the day after my notice period is over. This job has been all sorts of awful that I won’t get into here. The higher-ups have displaced workplace norms, one of which is that they expect people to stay on and continue working even after they quit. In the past, they have even reached out to someone who was fired for help with a project. One of our employees left over six months ago and is still doing reporting and working on our taxes.

I have not been treated well and I am done. I want to communicate that I will not be available after my last day, and am not interested in staying on a contract basis or working for free. What is the best way to communicate this in a clear, concise, and non-confrontational manner? I have an excellent relationship with my manager, and of course I will be happy to answer any questions he may have after I leave. I just want to shut down the expectation that I will still be able to do my job after I am gone.

It’s so bizarre to expect people to continue doing actual work after they leave (as opposed to just answering a few questions) that I don’t even think you need to explain ahead of time that you won’t be doing that. If they contact you with work once you’re gone, you can simply say, “That’s not something I can work on now that I’ve left” or “I’m swamped with my new job and not able to help” or “I don’t have any room in my schedule for contract work.” (Or you could give them the unvarnished answer, which is that YOU DON’T WORK THERE, but when you can achieve the same outcome without telling them off, most of the time you might as well.)

But if you want, you can certainly prep your manager for this now with something like, “I know the company has often turned to former employees for help with projects. I won’t be available for that once I leave, so we should make sure you get everything you need from me before my last day.”

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My coworker is getting on my last nerve

I work on a team of 10 where we all belong to the same department but we don’t all do the same thing. We are all working from home and receiving lots of emails from our manager, our country head, our company head, and stakeholders … and in the midst of this, one coworker, Kate, feels the need to send out emails so she feels important and shows she is working — reminding us that it’s the last day for the census, replying-all unnecessarily, telling others to fill in a team spreadsheet when said items are not required, etc. And while on Zoom calls, she brings up things that should be offline as they don’t involve anyone but her and my boss, but she wants everyone to know what she is dealing with.

I spoke with my manager today and she complained about Kate and how she had to clean up another of her messes. When I agreed with what she was saying, she said, “You should say something.” I replied that Kate does not report to me and will have an attitude. I do have a higher title but I don’t supervise her. But I want to send her a private email because after the census email, I have had enough. I just want to say, “Thanks for the update, but if it does not relate to my work, please keep me off the emails and reply-alls.”

I’m grateful to have a job and I know this comes off as petty, but I’m stressed and she is dancing on my last nerve. Can I send an email? Or do I just hit delete and move on?

Honestly, the problem is more with your boss! She should be running meetings better, and if she has complaints about Kate, she should be addressing them with her (because that’s her job), not complaining to other employees and definitely not trying to get you to address things with Kate so she doesn’t have to (!).

That said, in theory you could reply to one of Kate’s emails with something like, “We’re so busy right now that I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t include me on things like this — my inbox is really overloaded.” But I suspect you mostly want to do this because you’re annoyed with her and it feels good to say something. In reality, it takes two seconds to scan an email, see it’s irrelevant to you, and delete it, and that’s probably the better option.

The meeting digressions are a bigger problem since they use up more of your time. If you have the standing to do it, when she’s on a Zoom tangent that doesn’t affect anyone but her, you might be able to say, “I’m swamped today — if we’re done with things that affect everyone, do you mind if I drop off now?” (You have to use that judiciously. There are contexts where it would seem way too aggressive, but also times when it would be fine.)

But really, your boss is the bigger problem.

4. Employees want to work while they’re furloughed

Several of our employees were temporarily laid off this week. Many of them work closely with vendors and patients. The employees want to keep answering emails and taking calls, so they can maintain relationships. We have told them we are not authorizing them to do so. If they continue to work of their own volition, what repercussions will the business face?

It’s illegal for you to permit them to work if you’re not paying them, and you could get in trouble for wage law violations. You’ve got to tell them that you appreciate their dedication to their work but they’re putting the company at legal risk and you cannot permit them to work. Also, revoke their access to work email until they’re back.

5. How do I list collaborative projects on my resume?

I work at a government agency where almost every task is done in teams or via collaboration. My division has accomplished a lot, but I am never solely responsible for any particular achievement. I am struggling with how to put these things on my resume, and how to have a rocking resume in general when my accomplishments aren’t mine alone. I feel like I have to qualify every accomplishment in this way: [sample qualifying language in brackets]

[Collaborated to] achieve big accomplishment or create awesome product
[Co]-authored impressive-sounding report
[Supported efforts to] complete impressive-sounding task
[Worked on team that] accomplished this major thing

Even when I am the leader of a particular task force, I can’t claim it as my accomplishment alone. I could say “Led team that accomplished X.”

Will qualifying everything as a team effort look bad on my resume? If I lead/manage something, should I claim it as my own accomplishment even though multiple people worked on it?

Be specific about what your role was — what exactly did you do on the team responsible for the achievement? Don’t say “supported efforts to X” or “worked on team that achieved Y” because those are very vague. The first could mean you brought coffee to the people working on X, and the second could mean you didn’t do any work on Y yourself, just sat near the people who did. Instead, specifically describe the work you did — the specific way you contributed to the achievement. You still get to the name the achievement; you just need to be clearer about what your part it was.

When you led a team that achieved something impressive, “Led team that accomplished X” is perfectly fine.

6. Found a new job right after a layoff — at a higher salary

I just wanted to share my success story about how being laid off due to COVID-19 had a happy ending. One week after closing on my first house, I found out my position was being eliminated due to a reduction in force due to COVID-19 closures. It was a job and organization I truly loved, and I was devastated and extremely stressed to suddenly have no income after taking on a mortgage and dealing with moving costs.

I threw myself into applying for jobs and used your tips for my resume, cover letter, and interview prep. I was thrilled to get an interview request less than a week after applying. The company is not primarily remote, but they are working remotely right now and conducted an initial phone interview followed by two video interviews. On March 27, three days after my initial interview, I received an offer from them for a salary that is 28% more than I was previously making. I am off the payroll at my old job on April 1 and starting my new job remotely on March 31, so I won’t even have to file for unemployment.

Thank you for all your wonderful advice. I hope others out there in the same boat stay positive and keep applying. I am proof it is not a lost cause!

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 531 comments… read them below }

    1. Data Nerd*

      Hooray, OP#6! What a stressful situation, but good for you and all your hard work to land on your feet!

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      Alison and LW#6: Thank you both for choosing to share this news. I’m so happy I got to start the day with this.

      Congratulations on your success!

    3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      That is awesome! Congratulations! It’s great to see positive outcomes and encouraging stories. Best of luck to you in your new job!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right? This was such encouraging news and gave me hope that, should this downturn and pandemic go on much longer and my job is eliminated, all isn’t lost and I may actually find something better in no time.

    4. Phony Genius*

      If I read this correctly, the writer got paid on March 31st by both employers. Two days pay for one day of work. Not bad.

      1. Newly Hired*

        OP #6 here – yes! I was paid by both companies on March 31 and April 1. Just to clarify, I was no longer doing any work for my previous company at that, just being paid through that date.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Also, congratulations on your first house! That’s a big deal! I’m so happy for you on both fronts :)

    5. Bostonian*

      I can’t imagine how stressful that must’ve been. Congrats on both the new position and the home! It must be an added comfort to have your first place at a time when, well, you’re going to be spending a lot of time there!

    6. Newly Hired*

      OP #6 here, thanks everyone for all the kind words of support! What a stressful time that ended in the best outcome possible!

    7. From That Guy*

      OP #2 – don’t waffle. Irrespective of the relationship you have with your manager, when you’re gone you’re gone, period. No more contact re:business. And good luck with your new position!

  1. PollyQ*

    #1: Even in LW chooses not to tell her own employer, she should absolutely tell the pharmacy that one of their delivery people has been exposed to COVID. Their customers are likely to be among those who are most vulnerable to the disease.

    1. anony*


      And worth a call to the dept of public health as well, so she doesn’t just pick up delivery work with a different company.

      1. Elsie*

        Yes, please contact the health department! It’s possible for Lisa to spread Covid-19 to others even before/without having symptoms of illness. It’s very important that the health department is made aware of this.

        1. Elsie*

          She may have already exposed others so it’s important to tell the health department even if she stops her delivery work so the health department can manage the situation.

    2. Temperance*

      She needs to tell both. Her co-worker is either dishonest or reckless, or some combination of both. In my experience, people like that will have no problem sabotaging others.

      1. RemoteHealthWorker*

        I assumed she was honest with both jobs but her second job made her work anyway.

        Healthcare is notorious for making people work while sick.

        I don’t think op has enough information to risk lisa’s job at their employer. Feel free to call the pharmacy though!

        1. The Happy Intern*

          This doesn’t sound like normal delivery though, just temporary delivery to minimize contact and therefore not with an official health service. Also, maybe it’s just where I’m from but I can’t think of any pharmacies that normally offer delivery, and the ones that currently do are purely because of the current situation and so these delivery services are unofficial.
          That’s not to say your point isn’t valid!! It’s a side I never considered and I’m glad you brought it up! However in the current circumstances it could be more likely that she signed up to be a delivery driver like how people sign up to drive for car sharing apps to make extra cash while “stuck” at home.

          1. RemoteHealthWorker*

            Where are you getting that in the letter? It could be a door dash type side app if it were groceries, but for meds? Thats regulated in the US. Pharmacy delivery is from employees or official business partners with a BAA to be HIPPA compliant.

              1. RemoteHealthWorker*

                I havent been able to fully digest the CARES act yet, but maybe they laxed the HIPPA regs temporarily for these services. Otherwise, unless Doordash is providing HIPPA training to all employees or otherwise guaranteeing dashers have no PHI access I dont see how this is HIPPA compliant.

                If its not a door dash type service though Id stick with notifying the pharmacy.

                1. PollyQ*

                  If the deliveries are in a sealed package, and all the worker knows is the name & address of the recipient, then it might not be a HIPAA issue. Many companies already mail prescriptions without postal workers having to go through any kind of HIPAA training.

              2. Jdc*

                I keep seeing commercials that CVS is doing deliveries and Walgreens long has. Also having grown up in a pharmacy making labels for my candy (2 per day, back when me being behind the counter wasn’t so illegal) and counting tic tacs I know that many pharmacies have long offered delivery.

              3. KRM*

                CVS delivered my mom her prescriptions, which they don’t normally do, so I think they’re really trying to help people who are older/more at risk in order to minimize their exposure chances.

                1. Risha*

                  CVS absolutely normally does deliveries of prescriptions (unless it’s a controlled substance, I think), and has for several years now. The offer to do so is in every refill text notification I get. I just checked their website, wondering if it was regional, and they say “almost all” of their locations offer it.

            1. The Happy Intern*

              We don’t know where LW lives – she could be in the US, or Canada, or the UK, etc. Plus, she said that the pharmacy delivers medication “and other things he needs” which could mean anything from deodorant to Advil and thus wouldn’t require regulations as it’s not medicinal.

            2. KinderTeacher*

              My CVS same-day prescription deliveries use Shipt! (If I don’t need same day they just use USPS).

            3. Temperance*

              My grandfather used to deliver prescriptions as a side job. I can assure you, he had no special skills or training to do so, he just picked them up and took them to the addresses he was given.

              1. Massmatt*

                One of my first jobs was delivering prescriptions for a pharmacy after school. This was in the early 80’s.

                The CVS website is pushing mail/delivery HARD with banner ads etc all over the site.

                Delivery is, and long has been, a thing for pharmacies.

                Fun fact–my pharmacy had been in operation so long they also had a liquor license (I know! It’s a loophole from prohibition.) so I would sometimes also deliver bottles of whiskey or vodka to desperate alcoholic shut-ins.

            4. BookishMiss*

              US insurance human chiming in. Mall order pharmacy is becoming a huge thing because it’s generally far cheaper for all involved. There’s no identifying information on the packaging except the name and address of the recipient, so they usually are shipped regular USPS. I know for people who use mail order and have my company as their insurer, they pay 1/3 less than if they went into the pharmacy to pick it up [90 day fill for a 60 day copay].

            5. HelloHello*

              The CVS I use is in a Target, and they have offered free delivery for medication for at least the past year or so (and in fact mention it every time they text me that my prescription has been refilled.) I know places like target are also hiring a lot of new temporary delivery workers right now since demand has gone up so far.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            CVS has been advertising their delivery of prescriptions to me for a few months now, before the pandemic started.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It turns out it’s through the mail! I just switched my prescription over to them because I thought it was actual delivery, but they just put it in the mail. (Which was not a pleasant discovery when I was without painkillers for my mangled finger for several days as a result.)

              1. KinderTeacher*

                If you pony-up the extra money for same-day delivery they use Shipt. At least in my area!

                1. KinderTeacher*

                  Couldn’t nest again below your reply Alison, but I usually use the app (you do have to make an online account, I assume it’s quick and easy, it’s been years since I did it). I’ll see two options, one for same day and one for normal speed delivery. Same day is $8.

              2. Turquoisecow*

                I’ve never used it, but for the last few months whenever I got a prescription auto renewed I’d get a text to tell me it was ready and a reminder they could deliver it if necessary. Since the pandemic they’re pushing it more than before. My pharmacy is a quarter mile away and has a drive-up, so I haven’t bothered with the delivery.

              3. The Other Dawn*

                Thank you so much, Alison, for mentioning this! I’m on narcotic pain meds for my back surgery. I was thinking it’s in-person delivery, but when I went online it appeared to be delivery by mail only, which is not a good option for me at the moment. (Given that I’m considered a long-term user of narcotic pain meds–about eight months prior to surgery–, I knew it would be really unpleasant if I ordered delivery thinking I’d get them the next day and didn’t, then ran out of them and had to wait.) But seeing that Shipt is a same-day option, I’ll have to check into this when I refill on Monday. That way my husband won’t have to go out and get them for me.

            2. Tellulah*

              Some insurance covered delivery from CVS before all of this, but mine didn’t and I couldn’t have it delivered. Now CVS is offering me free delivery, I assume to help reduce exposure during the pandemic.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Stop & Shop in Connecticut has been offering pharmacy delivery since last year. I’ve seen it advertised elsewhere as well.

          4. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            UPS and USPS deliver meds–pet meds, etc–no worries about HIPAA. I mean, pet meds are often same meds that human animals use.

          5. soon to be former fed really*

            The local CVS in my area has been offering delivery for a long time before the outbreak. Not unusual at all.

            1. Quickbeam*

              Yes, I manage care for Work Comp patients and we’ve been setting up mail order delivery for ages. 3 months at a time, too.

          6. Malty*

            In the UK pharmacies offer delivery – it used to be only to those who are housebound but now it’s available as a standard service

          7. Alex*

            A lot of pharmacies offer delivery. I know someone who works full time as a delivery person for a pharmacy.

          8. Cabin fever reducer*

            Here in Texas CVS does at home deliveries as a service that started before the Covid-19 issue. I believe you can anything delivered now there are all kinds of delivery services. Doordash, Favor, etc.,

          9. Stir Crazy Bored*

            Independent pharmacies offer delivery services every day, pandemic or no pandemic.

            1. nonegiven*

              We used to have 2 pharmacies that delivered by having an employee drive your prescriptions to your house. It’s always been after 3:30 pm. There are a lot of older people that no longer drive, here. One pharmacist retired and the other bought him out, so it is only one, now.

          10. FriendlyCanadian*

            My pharmacy does delivery! I found when you get into the really expensive mediations they want to deliver them.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I disagree. As far as OP1 is concerned, it doesn’t matter why Lisa’s working the delivery job right now. All OP1 knows is that Lisa was put on quarantine by their shared employer, but is continuing to work a second job while she is supposed to be in isolation. By continuing to work in this manner, Lisa is not only risking her health and the health of the customers she’s delivering to, she’s also directly risking OP1’s health. If she’s continuing to be around people, she’s also continuing to put herself at risk for exposure. When her paid quarantine at work is over and she returns to the office, she may very well have been exposed again by someone else and will not have had enough time to stop being contagious, and her boss at OP1’s office absolutely needs to know that.

        3. Temperance*

          Why would you make that assumption? From the letter, it appears that she was exposed, is getting paid from her first job to stay home, and is delivering medication during normal work hours.

        4. Avasarala*

          Well she is still working at her second job while being paid not to work at her first job. That is not OK.

          If you have been exposed to this virus and instructed to isolate, and instead you willfully come into contact with many people, many of whom are sick (and getting their prescriptions from you), that is a Typhoid Mary-level moral failing. Better that healthcare is shortstaffed but the ones working are healthy than fully staffed with sick workers getting patients sick.

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “Well she is still working at her second job while being paid not to work at her first job. That is not OK.”

            She may have been working both jobs for years. It’s possible one job told her to stay home and the second job requires her to work the same hours as in the past. I don’t know if this is the case, but it may be.

            1. WellRed*

              How is this even possible? You think she was working delivery during office hours at her primary job? At any rate, a responsible person who was genuinely in contact with Coronavirus would do the right thing. This situation is all kinds of wrong.

            2. EPLawyer*

              It is HIGHLY likely she is working through a delivery service like doordash. Which happily touts you can work when you want, you are an independent contractor. So the delivery service can’t MAKE her work. Otherwise she wouldn’t be an independent contractor.

            3. Yorick*

              Then she wouldn’t be working at the same time that she would normally be working at the shared job. I don’t think we can assume this. It’s just as likely that she recently picked up this delivery job because she didn’t have anything else to do.

              1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

                And WHY doesn’t she have anything to do?

                Because she is supposed to be quarantining at home!

            4. Kes*

              I think this is a red herring – the problem isn’t necessarily working a second job (although if it’s during normal work hours and she’s double-dipping, that’s not great either) – it’s that the reason she isn’t working job 1 is that she was potentially exposed to coronavirus and should be self-isolating. As such, she should be staying home and not working any job that requires going out at the moment.

          2. BTDT*

            I had a client who is under quarantine from LA show up for an appointment- I didn’t let him in the door, and called DPS – they can fine and imprison violators of quarantine orders. This is a terrible virus and thousands are dying needlessly. I have ZERO patience with those who choose to risk others lives.

        5. Amanda*

          If that’s the case, then it’s Lisa’s responsibility to explain herself to her employer, and OP’s to report something that is definitely perceived as a breach of her license. And either way, it sounds like she was making these deliveries during the regular hours for their shared job, so that’s not in any way ok.

        6. Jennifer*

          That’s actually a good point. Maybe she wanted to stay home but her second job made her work? If she truly does work for the pharmacy and not an instacart type company that’s a possibility.

          1. Dahlia*

            Then she still needs to be reported. Even if they “”made”” her work, she’s still doing a reckless, dangerous thing that could murder people.

          2. Anonapots*

            Even her second job wanted her to work, it’s unlikely they would still make her if she told them she was exposed.

            1. Avasarala*

              Yes–which would also be a failing on her part. Any way you speculate on this, she comes out in the wrong.

      2. MyDogIsCalledBradlyPooper*

        I am not sure she needs to tell her employer. At this point all the OP knows is that Lisa is supposed to be self-isolating. Lisa is not doing this and potentially putting others at risk. That second part is the bigger issue. The OP should be telling the public health authorities and the pharmacy. Let the universe and karma address the potential fraud between Lisa and her employer. At this point you only suspect that’s whats going on and it does not have a material impact on you.

        1. Avasarala*

          If you get sick because Lisa was supposed to be quarantining and she’s not, it has a very material impact on you.

    3. Granger Chase*

      Yes! I also think Lisa’s reaction says a lot. She knows she’s in the wrong, so she left immediately as soon as she was seen by someone who knows she’s supposed to be quarantined. The fact that she’s delivering to people who could be immunocompromised makes me furious too.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        It’s entirely possible she’d run off in normal circumstances too. Really, some people do not want it know they’re working two jobs at any time. Particularly if one job is “white collar” and the second isn’t.

        1. virago*

          Honestly, I’m not interested in exploring any other motivations that Lisa might have. In *this* situation, she has been exposed to a contagious disease that has made some people very sick and has killed other people, she is supposed to be isolating herself at home so she has no contact with other people — and she’s not doing it!

          1. Amaranth*

            Its weird to hope that she is defrauding the company over being so careless with everyone else’s health.

          2. Wintermute*

            Because we live in a capitalist society, no one should be “punished” for a second job that isn’t handling the quarantine well when that might be the only way she’s surviving day-to-day.

            1. Avasarala*

              Because we live in a society, no one who has been exposed to contagion should be going around to the homes of vulnerable people. Their day-to-day survival is dependent on sick people staying home.

              Quarantine is not a punishment. It is a safety measure for us all. The system being sick and corrupt does not absolve the individual for making reprehensible choices within it. Lisa has other options.

    4. Fran*

      In many countries on lockdown police is involved and financial and legal repercussions are applied to people breaking quarantine.

      1. RemoteHealthWorker*

        In the us it is really patchy. Varying not only state by state but also even city or county. If op is in a covid free city in the us they may not even be in shelter in place yet.

        1. ..Kat..*

          She is not in a Covid19 free city. She has been exposed to Covid19 and is being paid by her employer to quarantine at home.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            OPlease clearly states the county has no cases. Her co-worker must have traveled or been visited.

            1. Mookie*

              The county has no known cases. Lisa isn’t the only colleague on leave for having been exposed/in close contact with someone suspected or verified to have covid.

            2. Doc in a Box*

              No known cases. This disease has been circulating internally in the US since January 2020 (based on genomic analysis done by UW and the rate of viral mutation — the original cluster in Snohomish County had been circulating internally for at least 6 weeks before it was identified).

              I know several healthcare workers in counties with “no cases” who saw cases of severe influenza-like illness (ILI) in late Jan and Feb, flu swab negative. Several of my colleagues got sick themselves. Was that covid? We have no way of knowing without an antibody test. All we know is (1) asymptomatic people can and do spread viral particles and (2) close to 80% of covid is mild ILI. And that’s not accounting for the millions of people who never have a fever or the other classic symptoms, and therefore never get tested.

              Saying it’s a disease for people who “must have traveled or been visited” displays a deep misunderstanding of transmission dynamics and plays into the false narrative that it’s a disease of OTHER people. That’s a defense mechanism, I get it, but it’s a dangerous one. We’ve seen it play out with other pandemics over the years, from the Black Death to AIDS.

              1. B.*

                It’s not that it’s a disease only for those who have traveled or been visited, it’s that OPs coworker in particular must have if she’s known to be exposed in a city with no known cases.

                1. LunaLena*

                  No KNOWN cases. Note the emphasis. There could be a hundred people there who have it, but just don’t know it and are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms so they just think it’s a cold. Lisa could have gotten it from the neighbor’s dog – dogs and cats can carry coronavirus, they just don’t have the same symptoms – and no one would know if everyone in her immediate vicinity hasn’t been tested for it.

                2. GrumpyGnome*

                  @LunaLena – the novel coronavirus, COVID19, is NOT the same coronavirus that dogs, cats, livestock, etc, get, and it is not spread from pets to humans. Coronavirus is a broad category; for example Feline Infection Peritonitis is a coronavirus, and it cannot be spread from cats to humans. There’s been a lot of misleading info on this, leading people to bring their cats and dogs to either shelters or vets to be put down, and it is inaccurate. Your dog or cat, again, to the best of our knowledge at this time, is not going to give you COVID19.

                3. whingedrinking*

                  @ LunaLena: at this time there is no evidence that cats and dogs can incubate CoV-19. (People are being encouraged not to touch other people’s animals or let their own be touched by other people, but it’s for the same reason that you should avoid touching elevator buttons and door handles and so on – to minimize surface-to-surface transfer of the virus.)

                4. B.*

                  Right but this particular thread is about what repercussions there might be to breaking the quarentine, and what difference it might make that there’s no known cases. It’s irrelevant that people may be getting it from their neighbors, and I don’t think anybody was saying you can’t. Just that Lisa didn’t, if she’s being quarentined for known exposure in a city that doesn’t have known cases, and that being in a city without known cases the law may not cover much about breaking quarentine, because some governments suck right now.

                5. KoiFeeder*

                  @LunaLena Dogs cannot contract COVID-19, and dogs who have been in close contact with infected humans do not carry enough of the viral load just from presence to infect a human.

                  Cats might be able to contract it, but their infectious load is unclear.

                  Ferrets can contract and spread COVID-19.

            3. Oryx*

              Saying the coworker must have traveled or been visited shows a willful ignorance of what COVID is and how it spreads.

              1. soon to be former fed really*

                Yes, ignorance is deadly at this time. OP should report the coworker.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                They aren’t saying that is the only way to catch it–but if the city is reporting no known cases and Lisa has told the boss she was exposed to a confirmed case then it seems reasonable to say that would have to be from travelling to somewhere else or someone from somewhere else travelling to her.

                Or, hopefully, Lisa is lying. I hope for the sake of everyone she has delivered medications that she was lying about being knowingly exposed.

                1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  Or people aren’t reporting cases–in Massachusetts, several people died in a veterans’ home in Holyoke before anyone working there told the city or state governments, as required. In a lot of other places, there “are no cases here” because people who might have either covid or the flu aren’t being tested for either, just told to stay home, rest, and call back if it gets worse.

                2. Oryx*

                  Tests are near impossible to come by as it is or are only reserved for dire cases. Or people just aren’t testing specifically to keep it under wraps. But there are plenty of stories of people who clearly have COVID but are unable to be tested. Just because there’s no “confirmed” case doesn’t mean there aren’t cases nor does it mean people aren’t being exposed to it.

                3. Old and Don’t Care*

                  YES. To the people below, of course Lisa could have been exposed by an unreported case. As could all of her co-workers. But she is being asked to self isolate because of exposure to a confirmed case. Which would have come from somewhere/someone outside of the area where no known cases have been reported. So the prevalence of unknown and unreported case isn’t relive the here.

            4. Massmatt*

              This is illogical and dangerous.

              We do not have enough testing kits to test the population at large to see if they carry the virus. Many people have the virus for several days or longer before developing any symptoms, and longer to get symptoms bad enough they go to a hospital, and even then many cannot get tested. Many others don’t develop symptoms at all but carry the virus and can infect others.

              When we are seeing #’s of infected patients, we are seeing the infections that happened weeks ago. We are only now seeing infections start among the idiot spring break party goers and others who have flouted the advice to reduce contact with others. We will all pay the price.

          2. CupcakeCounter*

            Or she lied about being exposed in order to get quarantine pay from her employer AND make additional money working a side job. I know in my area all of the shopping services are advertising for shoppers like crazy and offering 1 1/2 to 2X the normal pay. Combine that with people being as generous as possible with tips, Lisa could be making pretty decent money.
            I use one of the shopping services and chatted with my most recent shopper via text and she said all members of her family are doing it now (husband was laid off and college age kids home from school) and her phone is constantly dinging with new orders and she has made more in the last 2 weeks than she did the previous 3 months.

      2. Nassan*

        Yes, in some places (don’t know about US) knowingly exposing people to diseases is against the law.

      3. Tiny Soprano*

        Here in Australia a man has already been put in jail for violating quarantine. $1000 fines are on the books as well.

        1. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

          I saw a video earlier today where someone was following a teen around who was breaking quarantine. It was in Hong Kong and the teen had a tracking bracelet provided by the govt. Some people were saying it’s not fair to harass her but I thought it was perfectly appropriate – if you break the quarantine, face the consequenes.

      4. Phony Genius*

        If this was in the Philippines, the president of that country is saying that she’d be shot.

          1. Eukomos*

            That’s also how awful Duterte is. He was having people murdered in the streets long before this excuse came along.

    5. Puggles*

      What this person is doing is evil. Period. It’s up there with all the toilet paper and hand sanitize hoarders who tried to sell online and price gouge the public.

    6. Nic*

      Agreed. If this was a different conflict of interest, I might say tell your boss first, and then only tell the pharmacy if if the convo with Boss confirms that there’s a wider problem – but the time crunch here is critical! You can’t afford to wait and hope you find out how the conversation went, because if she WAS exposed, she’s potentially infecting the people at the pharmacy and also the people she’s delivering to.

    7. Kimberly*

      I was going to say the same thing the OP has a moral obligation to notify
      1. Their employer because the coworker is unethical an could cause a ton of problems
      2. The pharmacy because If the original story is true the coworker is endangering the most vulnerable in our society. If she is lying she is unethical.
      3. Report to the county or state emergency line that someone exposed to the virus is delivering medication to vulnerable people instead of self-isolating. In my Mom’s home province this would be a massive fine. The woman needs to be locked up and charged with something like assault for every delivery she made. People need to grow up or shut up.
      (Backstory – my grandfather was lost an arm and eye in WWII. He lost part of his lymphatic system to the amputation. During the 1968 flu pandemic, he was a customs inspector. A ship with the flu on board ignored medical advice and lied. If they had told the truth precautions would have been taken. Instead my immune-compromised grandfather was exposed and died. My younger 5 aunts and uncles grew up without a father. So following medical instructions about infectious diseases has been hammered into my head from that day forward. My family is very hard line on the subject. )

  2. Jamieson James*

    Lisa from letter #1 needs to be fired immediately. She is double dipping (being given paid quarantine leave by the company and working a second job doing deliveries on the side). Whether she was ever exposed or not, Lisa is essentially stealing from the company. OP also needs to notify the delivery company of her deception. I doubt they would condone one of their employees doing what Lisa is doing. Lying about being exposed or going out after being exposed is horrible too.

    1. Dan*

      Hard disagree, at least from a USA point of reference. There are very limited circumstances where people are prohibited from having multiple jobs. Realistically, the employer in this circumstance is paying this employee to not come to work, no more, no less. Whether or not employee stays at home isn’t the employer’s business.

      This person’s behavior could be a public health issue for the relevant health department, or perhaps an issue with for the delivery company, but collecting two paychecks is certainly not the problem here.

      You seem way more focused on this person getting two paychecks than your are on the public health risks of this behavior. Did I understand your post correctly?

      1. allathian*

        She’s stealing from the company in the sense that she’s been paid not to work for them and to isolate herself, and she’s doing deliveries instead, which means that she’s not isolating herself and thus is breaking her (implicit) agreement with her employer. I presume her normal job is such that she can’t WFH, or she’d be doing that for her employer. If she had been unexposed and doing deliveries on the side in addition to her normal work, then her employer would have no cause to complain.

        1. Amaranth*

          I suppose whether she is defrauding the company might depend on whether they had her use banked sick leave or they are giving extra isolation pay. It would be tasteless to claim COVID exposure to get a couple of weeks off, but if people want to burn their OWN sick pay for a job interview, a mental health day, false isolation, it would be degrees of lying but not theft. Of course, the two week duration and exposure claim would make me want to fire her anyway.

      2. Avasarala*

        “Realistically, the employer in this circumstance is paying this employee to not come to work, no more, no less. Whether or not employee stays at home isn’t the employer’s business.”

        They are paying her to stay at home in order to self-isolate because she has been exposed to an infectious disease. It’s like taking paid maternity leave and then it comes out there’s no baby and there was never a baby.

        Best case scenario, it’s not a public health risk, and she simply lied about being exposed to get PTO. Which is still bad.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yep, they are – although they are paying her so that she doesn’t come into contact with other employees and isn’t a risk in the office.

          I *obviously* don’t think this is ok, but if someone hypothetically were already working two jobs and one of them paid them to self-isolate but the other demanded they come in regardless… that’s not breaking any terms with the first employer afaict.

          1. Tallulah in the Sky*

            Unless they do have an order to self quarantine from a doctor, and that’s why OP’s employer is paying her paid sick leave.

            Lisa is also coming in contact with sick people… If she was asked to self-isolate and only come back when they’re reasonably sure she’s healthy, it defeats the whole purpose of the paid leave and potentially does put her colleagues at risk.

            1. boo bot*

              Yeah, the issue here isn’t about who’s paying her, it’s that she’s not actually in quarantine. Theoretically, if she’s infected the symptoms will show up in the 14-day isolation period, meaning that if she doesn’t get sick in that time, she’s not going to get sick.

              If she gets exposed again during the quarantine period, the 14-day clock needs to start over; if she gets exposed without knowing it and doesn’t start the clock again, she could come back to work and spread the virus.

              Her employer needs to know because what she’s doing is dangerous to her coworkers when she comes back to work. She doesn’t have a moral obligation to the company because they’re paying her; she has a moral obligation to her coworkers, and everyone else she encounters, to avoid spreading the virus.

              1. Eukomos*

                This is a really good point, she could present a risk to the other employees at OP’s workplace. That’s completely within the realm of information her primary employer deserves to have.

          2. Green great dragon*

            If she has been exposed and a *pharmacy* is demanding she come into work, then the pharmacy needs to be reported – which still comes down to OP needing to tell someone. This isn’t social distancing, this is actual exposure.

          3. Darsynia*

            I find this very, very hard to believe. If the first employer is paying them to self-isolate and they weren’t self-isolating, how is that not breaking terms with them?? Frankly, if there’s a chance the first employer would withdraw the payments if they knew LW1 was staying home, then I think that’s something they would want to know. Especially now when everyone’s money is tight, would you want to keep this knowledge to yourself, knowing that there might not be money to pay YOU if you were the next one who needed to self-isolate?

        2. Tallulah in the Sky*

          Love that analogy, even if it’s a bit iffy :-p

          This is not the case of someone having a second job and sometimes taking PTO to do that job, this is a complete different situation, with public health risk adding to the mix, which makes it all much worse.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Right. Just because someone may not technically be breaking a law doesn’t mean something isn’t unethical. I would argue strongly that what this person is doing is unethical.

        3. hbc*

          I’d say it’s more like taking paternity leave and then going off to golf and not actually spend time with your family. The reason you got the leave is still there, but you’re not using it as they intended–which isn’t necessarily something they can or should police.

          1. Shirley Keeldar*

            It’s like taking paternity leave and going off to golf and whacking everybody you see on the head with your golf club.

            1. hbc*

              Fair enough, but in most leave arrangements I’ve seen, the employer can’t revoke paternity leave for spending it whacking people with golf clubs, unless you get arrested or something. You will probably lose a lot of standing if you’re caught on the golf course in either case.

            2. boo bot*

              Yeah! …but it’s a magic golf club that makes some of the people you hit also start going around whacking everybody they see with magic golf clubs, which make some of the people THEY hit start going around whacking everybody they see with even more magic golf clubs…

            3. Terrysg*


              It’s like taking paternity leave when you aren’t having a baby (or adopting a child).

              1. Eukomos*

                But she probably has been exposed, she’s just being irresponsible about handling it.

            1. Malarky-less*

              Seriously. It seems like some people are bending over backwards to give Lisa the benefit of the doubt. There are plenty of people who would be told to quarantine and wouldn’t take it seriously. We have seem myriad examples of this already. Additionally, there are plenty of people who would fake exposure for paid time off. Lisa is either in the first group or the second, and it doesn’t matter which; she has to be reported, not to try to tattle on her, but for everyone’s safety.

              If she made this up to get paid time off, well, she took a very big and callous risk and has to live with the consequences. But the more important thing is the chance that she really was exposed and is exposing more people. As soon to be former fed really said, people are dying now. No one on the receiving end of those deliveries (many of whom may be the highest risk people) needs to be taking that risk. And that’s true even if this second job isn’t just a gig delivery job that she is choosing to do of her own accord.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                I’m immunosuppressed, and right now everything’s being delivered. If one of the delivery people has been exposed, and delivers my orders anyways, they could literally kill me. I could die.

                This is not okay.

      3. nonegiven*

        Isn’t it fraud, that she is getting paid under false pretenses, assuming she lied about being exposed?

    2. Maya Elena*

      I think if Lisa found a good she could do entirely from home during her paid quarantine, I think it wouldn’t be an issue.

        1. valentine*

          during her paid quarantine
          Why does poor widdle Wisa need to work specifically during paid leave?

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Yikes. Most of us could use a little extra income. I can see that being especially attractive if you’re stuck at home and dying to do something productive.

            1. AKchic*

              then she should take up a hobby.

              If she is asymptomatic, Lisa is literally gambling with other peoples’ lives because she’s “stuck at home and dying to do something productive”. Sorry Timmy, grandma had to die because Lisa was just *dying* of boredom at home in quarantine due to C-19 exposure, so she started delivering diabetes and blood pressure medication. No hard feelings.

              Yeah, that’s not really a great excuse.

          2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

            I wouldn’t care if she was doing other paid work that she could do at home. There are plenty of jobs out there that she could do from home in quarantine, copy-editing, freelance writing, etc, etc, etc. Even if she gets paid time of from her job. Perhaps she needs the extra money, I am not judging her on that. (I mean, she is home for at least 2 weeks, and while she does get paid for it, she is allowed to do an extra gig if she wants to).

            I *do* care that (and judge her!) she is doing an outside job and coming in contact with a lot of people while spreading a potential deadly virus while she is asymptomatic. That is a huge deal!

    3. Yorick*

      Double dipping may not be the issue you think it is. In my state government job, it’s specified that you can take paid leave to do paid work at a second job, as long as the second job isn’t with a different state agency and your second job is approved to make sure there’s no conflict of interest.

  3. Martha Marcy May Marlene*

    Lisa sucks. OP #1 I would tell the company and whoever she is working for doing the delivery job and I would not feel bad about it at all.

    1. Dan*

      By and large, I have issues with trying to employers into outside-of-work behavior police. In normal times, AAM always says it’s not a work-place crime to go to the grocery store while out on sick time, and this is no different in a lot of ways. COVID-19 quarantine pay isn’t much different than sick pay — it’s functionally the same, in that one is getting paid to not come to work.

      Lisa’s behavior could be an issue for the public health department over the delivery service, but I think her primary employer should be kept out of this for reasons stated above.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They’re paying her to stay home, specifically, not just to avoid work. I guarantee you they would not knowingly offer quarantine pay to someone using that time to work another job — and in fact, to get the pay under the new sick leave law, the person needs to be on a medically-ordered quarantine.

        1. RemoteHealthWorker*

          But we also dont know its the quarantined required leave. It could be the ops employer decided that they wanted their higher risk employee to self isolate.

          It might also be the legally defined one, but maybe not.

          Also, an employer who chooses to give higher risk at having covid staff time off are not missing out on much if that employee is working. They are still benefiting from reduced risk of catching covid for the rest of their staff.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The medical (and public health) advice when you’ve been exposed is to self-quarantine. That is the advice for anyone in Lisa’s situation.

            I can’t believe this is getting debated.

            1. Dan*

              Part of the question is what’s OP’s employer’s business. That’s open for debate.

              The second part is some people have to make tough choices. I remember the parts of my life where I had to make tough choices. You make them and hope you don’t get caught. I have to imagine OP’s coworker is out making money because she *needs* it.

              I don’t have to make too many touch choices any more. I get to sit around my apartment WFH all week and not come into contact with a single person. Some people need two jobs to pay all of the bills, sick pay from one alone isn’t going to cut it.

              1. PollyQ*

                I’m sympathetic to people who are behind the economic eight-ball right now, but her “tough choices” may well cause actual deaths. The reason the company is paying her to stay home is to help avoid that, and by her actions, she’s negating any benefit from it.

                I think most people here would be sympathetic if she’d picked up some other kind of freelance or under the table work that didn’t involve touch points with medically vulnerable people, but what she’s doing is so irresponsible that I think it says things about her character & common sense that most employers would want to know.

                1. Dan*

                  Thanks, I appreciate that.

                  Just to be clear, OP asked if OP should *tell her boss*. From a public health perspective, that’s not going to solve the problem. All that’s likely going to happen is that Lisa is going to get fired, and Lisa will continue to drive for the pharmacy and spread the virus. So nothing gained.

                  Lisa did not ask if she should call the pharmacy/delivery service or public health officials. If she would have asked *that* question, we’d have a different conversation. Lisa knows who the pharmacy is, so it seems that a quick call to the main number and a “hey, you know you have an infected driver” would take care of things pretty fast. And either the pharmacy cares or doesn’t.

                  Again, my thing here is about “reporting” this to the primary employer. If the issue is Lisa getting paid, let it go. If the issue is Lisa out driving for a pharmacy and spreading the virus, the primary employer cannot stop that. A call to the pharmacy is certainly in order, and that is nowhere in any advice.

                2. Ice and Indigo*

                  I agree stopping her exposing people matters more than stopping her double-dipping. However, exposing people with health issues to potential Corona infection is so horribly serious that I personally think she should be reported to every possible authority, because she’s clearly so reckless that it might take more than one consequence to get her to stop.

                3. KimberlyR*

                  @Dan-But the company is quarantining Lisa for 2 weeks in the assumption that she will completely stay home and either show symptoms of COVID-19 or prove that she doesn’t have it (because 14 days is the incubation period). So the employer assumes that Lisa will come to work after those 2 weeks, having proven that she does not have the disease and could not infect anyone around her. If Lisa is encountering people during her quarantine, she could pick up the disease at any time and could then infect someone else in the office. So this is very much a problem for her employer, besides the double-dipping aspect.

                4. Ping*

                  Kimberly R.
                  Yours is a key point! Every time Lisa goes out the 14 day quarantine clock resets.

              2. Myrin*

                I feel like I’m an Annoying Repetitive Robot for how often I bring this up on AAM but what you’re saying is pure speculation and the most sympathetic reading of Lisa’s behaviour one could think of. And it might well be true! But it might also very much not be true!

                Lisa might just as well have been bored at home and decided to take on a side gig, not caring about exposing dozens of people.
                Heck, she might even have planned this – lying about having been exposed to the virus so that she can get paid time off to then make some extra cash by doing delivery work.

                I obviously don’t know Lisa. I have absolutely no idea what she’s like or what the likeliest scenario here is. You could be right, one of my two examples above could be right, something else entirely that no one’s yet thought of could be right.

                But the point is, it doesn’t do us or the OP any good to so heavily extend the benefit of the doubt to someone who is behaving as carelessly (and possibly even maliciously even though, again, we can’t know that) as Lisa is right now. It’s all well and good to not throw your metaphorical banhammer at someone as soon as you catch wind of something potentially fishy but if that stops OP from acting – and in this case, from acting in a way which could indeed help save literal lives, which isn’t something that can be said often – then we really shouldn’t be throwing out our hypotheses so freely.

                (And I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who has been working two jobs to barely make ends meet for years. In fact, I started jobhunting in my actual field right before the outbreak and everything’s frozen right now so I will have to work these two jobs – where one is essential and I’ve been furloughed from the other – for even longer than planned. My family was on welfare and has been living below my country’s poverty line for over ten years. I have, independently from my jobs, indeed done things which I just did in the hopes of not being caught, and thankfully I’ve always been lucky. So I understand hard living situations, especially financially. But I still don’t condone Lisa’s behaviour, and I don’t feel compelled to make up a tragic backstory for her either.)

                1. Dan*

                  My thing is (I know I’ve said this elsewhere) is that the public health issue is with Lisa driving for the pharmacy. OP did not ask if she could call the pharmacy and report it. (If she were asking that advice, I’d have a different opinion.) But OP asked if she should tell their *primary employer*. That’s what sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

                2. Myrin*

                  @Dan, I understand your point. But to me, this speaks to Lisa’s character in such a way that I think it affects OP’s company regardless of whether it’s involved directly or not.

                  And you might say “But if Lisa’s pharmacy employer pressures her to do delivery then her doing the deliveries doesn’t actually speak to her character!” and I’d say that is the point where we disagree. And that is because there are people in that situation, who are also in financial dire straits, who also need a second income, who would still choose to not do the deliveries because they don’t want to expose anyone. It might suck royally to risk being fired from a much needed job (and as you can see from my other comment, I know intimately what financial insecurity and the resulting desperation look like) but they would still stand up and say “I’m not doing that”.

                  And that is only if your sympathetic scenario is correct – if either of my two scenarios is correct, Lisa has even less of a leg to stand on.

                  I’m going to use an example which might sound super wild but which is actually something that happened in my area about two years ago, just not with bridges: Let’s say Lisa is architecturally and mechanically inclined. She likes messing with parts of smaller-scale bridges in her area which endanger the structural integrity of these bridges. She’s not full-on sawing away whole parts of them but just putting some holes here and there or loosening some screws. Nothing might ever happen – the bridges could be structurally sound otherwise or be fully renovated before there’s any kind of consequence. But she might’ve also nicked a vitally important part which causes the bridge to collapse the tenth time something heavier than one human crosses it. Let’s say OP finds out about this.

                  Now this is obviously not a perfect metaphor (and as I said, it’s actually not a metaphor at all because it really happened, but bear with me) because the “dire straits” angle doesn’t even come into play unless Lisa is being pressured by the mafia to do this unless she wants her whole family killed. Someone who does this is clearly acting maliciously from the start (and indeed, the person who did it IRL was sentenced heavily). But let’s say nothing happens. Lisa’s employer has nothing to do with bridges or traffic or buildings. None of their employees even use the bridges. None of the bridge sabotage happened on company time. But I still think they would be interested in knowing they had someone on their staff who is willing to do something like that.

                3. Amanda*

                  @Dan. Your point that OP should notify the pharmacy is spot on. She should. If the pharmacy doesn’t seem too concerned about it, I’d even say OP should notify her local health department. And yes, I’d do this before reporting to the employer, if only so I can maybe gather some more information and maybe help diminish exposure.
                  But none of that means OP can’t or shouldn’t also report it to her employer. If Lisa has a genuine reason to be making those deliveries, i.e, a previous job that’s not complying with quarantine rules/laws, then LISA should explain it to her employer.
                  We say we shouldn’t judge people too harshly on perceived bad attitudes. But on the other hand, we also can’t give them this much of the benefit of the doubt, specially when lives are involved. Wether or not this was a tough decision for Lisa, she made the wrong one, and that speaks of her character.
                  Plus, maybe it’s just me, but I read it as she doing deliveries during the primary employer’s working hours, and that’s even less ok.

                4. Yorick*

                  @Dan: The big public health issue today is that she’s driving for the pharmacy, but it’s not the only public health concern. The reason for a 14-day self-quarantine is that you stay at home and at the end you know that you didn’t get COVID from the exposure that made you start the quarantine. Then it can be considered safe for you to return to work. So the employer paid her for the time she was off so they could protect her coworkers. If she’s making deliveries during the 14-day quarantine, she may get COVID on day 13, but she lied to her employer so they’re gonna let her come back to work on day 15, and she’ll expose everyone there. This is definitely something that OP needs to share with her job. At the very least, she needs to do a real 14-day quarantine starting now.

              3. Amaranth*

                Wouldn’t Lisa be able to claim unemployment from the second job though if she couldn’t work her normal hours?

            2. hbc*

              I don’t think anyone is debating whether Lisa is being an ass given the situation in the world right now. The question is whether the employer has any right to enforce anything but “stay away from the workplace.” I know when we send someone home under the new laws (including reporting a scratchy throat), we certainly don’t get to decide how necessary an outing is on their part.

              And logically, Lisa is at no more risk of infecting her *coworkers* than someone else working a delivery side gig. Either she got exposed by that particular contact and should theoretically be non-contagious by the time she gets back, or she didn’t pick it up from the potential contact and is risking picking it up on a delivery, just like the person in my shop who I can’t ban from *her* side gig.

              So I think her damage to the company is only the general effect of being a lousy human being.

              1. hbc*

                Okay, I take that back, some people *are* debating Lisa’s jerkiness. I will acknowledge the very unlikely possibility that more people will die if Lisa’s second income is cut versus the chance she’ll kill someone with the virus she might have, but I still feel confidant saying that she’s an ass.

              2. Perpal*

                Company can fully decide that if she led them to believe she was self-isolating, then didn’t, to fire her. Lying is fireable.

              3. Blueberry*

                But by going out Lisa runs another risk of exposure with every interaction, and then runs the risk of infecting her coworkers when she returns to the workplace she shares with LW. Whereas her employers are paying her to stay home and avoid further risks of infection, as well as to stay home and wait to see if she develops symptoms. Both of those are aspects of quarantine. So she *is* not doing what her employers are paying her to do, which is, to stay in quarantine.

              4. Darsynia*

                I think the argument is that it’s worth the money to employers to pay someone to actually quarantine for those 14 days so that at the end of them they are certain the employee isn’t sick. If the person goes out at any point during those 14 days, the point of the quarantine is then removed, and the money is not well spent. I think that’s the argument.

              5. Dahlia*

                “I know when we send someone home under the new laws (including reporting a scratchy throat), we certainly don’t get to decide how necessary an outing is on their part.”

                This is the problem with people using “social-isolation” and “self-quarantine” interchangeably. If you’re quarantining, you don’t go out. Period. Otherwise you are not quaranting anymore, and you’ve reset the clock.

                1. Marni*

                  This is so important, and I admit I was confused about it myself at first. I thought I was self quarantining by only going out for groceries once a week and only going to the pharmacy when it was urgent. That’s not a quarantine.

            3. soon to be former fed really*

              I can’t believe this is being debated either. It’s an invisible virus, people!

      2. acmx*

        Lisa is not making a quick to the grocery store while sick. She’s working another job.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Another job that puts her into contact with people who are receiving medicine from pharmacies, so it’s not a long shot to assume that this people would be at higher risk of death if they were infected with Covid-19. And even if Lisa doesn’t have it, what’s to say that the house she stopped at before delivering insulin to a diabetic at the next house (or something similar) wasn’t infected. She is gambling with people’s lives here and I sympathise if she needs this job to pay rent, but she isn’t just making this decision for herself, she’s making it for the many number of people that she comes into contact with through the course of her delivery job.

          1. valentine*

            No, because your neighbors at the store are not as diverse or as new a population as random, further-flung delivery customers.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is not remotely similar to taking a quick trip to the grocery store while you’re sick. People are staying home and isolating now in hopes of *not* contracting COVID. If Lisa’s been exposed, she’s going to those people’s homes with deliveries and taking the virus with her. Is she wearing a mask and gloves so the germs she’s shedding aren’t soaking into the cardboard boxes her deliveries are packed in? COVID can live on cardboard for 24 hours, and if she’s not taking those precautions, she’s literally handing the virus to people who are doing everything in their power to keep from getting it.

        If Lisa’s doing this because her second employer has threatened to fire her if she doesn’t, then I do feel for her. Of course I do. No one should ever be asked to choose between their livelihood and the lives of the people around them. But OP1 gets to be concerned about their own health as well. They can’t keep silent if it’s possible that Lisa’s continually re-exposing herself and could come back to the office still contagious, and their company can’t allow Lisa to come back after the quarantine period is up if she can’t be sure she’s not been exposed again.

        1. Green great dragon*

          If her second employer is threatening to fire her, then OP’s employer will find that out when it talks to Lisa, and should then be reporting the second employer immediately.

        2. soon to be former fed really*

          There’s no evidence Lisa has been threatedned with anything. Stop with the fanfiction, people.

    2. Lynne*

      I would first confirm that she doesn’t have a twin. A member of my team has one and I wasn’t aware. I ran into the twin (who I thought was my employee) and couldn’t understand why she acted like she didn’t know me.

      1. Amanda*

        I would think Lisa’s twin would have no reason to leave immediately when they see OP.

        1. Delta Delta*

          How long ought a delivery person, Lisa or not, stick around? Seems like the delivery is kind of a quick transaction. Ring the bell, hand the item, leave.

          1. Amanda*

            Possibly. But since OP noted she left immediately, I’m trustng their word that it was an unusual interaction.

        2. Perpal*

          All delivery people leave immediately right now; I’m surprised they stuck around long enough to be seen face to face, frankly. (I know there was a cam, but had to be face to face for “lisa” to see the OP).

          OP should just tell their employer about what they saw and employer can figure it out. And possibly the pharmacy she was delivering for.

          1. valentine*

            I would first confirm that she doesn’t have a twin.
            All delivery people leave immediately right now
            No & no. Let the employer/public health investigate the soap opera angle.
            There will be people who need help getting their deliveries inside/stored.

        3. Rainy*

          I mean, it’s a delivery. I’ve been getting deliveries and the delivery person leaves the second they see that I’ve gotten my package. Or before. I shout “thank you” down the hall at the UPS person. I’ve never seen him or her.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Exactly. Maybe Lisa does have a twin. But it’s not OP’s job to suddenly become Murder She Wrote and solve the mystery. If Lisa has a twin, she will simply say to her employer, “Oh that’s just my twin sister Risa”. Problem solved.

    3. Phony Genius*

      In reporting this, I would open the conversation with Alison’s own line: “I’m aware of a major policy violation and potential public health risk, and I have a responsibility not to cover it up.”

  4. The Happy Intern*

    #1 – If it helps your conscience think of it this way: if your parent/siblings/partner/children was in a high risk group (which it sounds like you might but it’s not explicit), and you found out that they were being exposed by someone who was ignoring strict orders to stay home because they could be infected, wouldn’t you be angry and scared for your loved one? That’s how all the other people Lisa delivered to is going to feel if they find out. This isn’t about you being petty because Lisa may be faking sick to get a some free days off work, if she really is a high chance of being a carrier she’s jeopardizing the lives of who knows how many. From my personal side, my dad WILL die if he gets this virus, and I would be horrified and angry to discover something like this. And if she is faking it to get free time off and “double dip” like Alison says, she’s putting the rest of all her coworkers – including you – at risk of losing the help your company is giving, which is her just being an awful, selfish person.

    1. Ice and Indigo*

      Yesterday the dad of a dear friend of mine did die of Coronavirus. He was a lovely, lovely man whose family adored him and who was kind to everyone, and now he’s gone. We can’t even pay our respects the way he deserves, because they can’t hold a proper funeral for him, because of the local health measures. It’s just a shattering loss with no bright side at all.

      That is what Lisa may be doing to people. Anything legal that could possibly be done to stop her is better than the alternative.

      1. The Happy Intern*

        I’m so sorry, I hope your friend and everyone else affected can make peace as best as possible with the situation! <3

        1. Ice and Indigo*

          Thank you. But I live in the UK; we are governed by Lisas. If they’d acted when they should, he might be alive today. His family may be more forgiving than me – like I say, they’re lovely people – but I see no peace to be made until the entire Cabinet is doing hard time for crimes against humanity.

      2. Sunflower*

        I’m so sorry and thank you for sharing this story. I keep repeating that we need to hear stories like this, not to scare people who are doing the right thing, but for people who aren’t. This landscape is so tough because generally, good people follow the ‘let other people live as long as it doesn’t affect you’ and 95% of the time, things people do don’t affect others. Unfortunately, now we’re on the flip side where where almost everything people are doing now can be the difference between life or death. All norms are out the window right now.

      3. Alice's Rabbit*

        My condolences on the loss of your friend’s father. Perhaps you might suggest that they hold a memorial service in a few months, once the quarantine is over. And perhaps livestream the graveside service, so those who wish to attend can be there virtually, if not physically.

    2. Trek*

      If we’re going to out companies who are treating their employees badly or violating the law related to COVID we need to out individuals as well.

  5. Nosy Librarian*

    #3 – This is an incredibly small detail but also really important: The US Census is still going on! If you live in the United States, you still have several more weeks to complete it, and you absolutely should. April 1st is the date they ask about on the form (where were you living on this day?), not a deadline.

    1. virago*

      We don’t know whether or not Lisa can make her rent and pay for food without this second job. We don’t know whether Lisa has credit card bills or an unemployed boyfriend/girlfriend or is also selling her plasma to make ends meet.

      Based on OP 1’s letter, all we know about Lisa is:

      1. She says she has been exposed to COVID-19 — a contagious virus that has made a lot of people very sick and has killed a lot of other people.
      2. She is being paid to stay home and stay away from other people as much as possible so that she doesn’t infect other people with this virus.
      3. By taking a second job doing pharmacy deliveries (!), not only is Lisa not isolating herself, but she’s also putting herself directly in the path of at-risk people — such as OP 1’s immunocompromised uncle.

      Until I get more information, I’m going to judge this situation based on the information that I have been given. Speculation is for the birds.

      1. soon to be former fed really*

        More fan fiction. Your judgement matters not, doing everything possible to sshut down transmission does. Like my governor says, its a difficult choice between livelihood and life, but without livelihood, there is no life.

    2. snowglobe*

      Thank you! People are so worried about Covid that the Census might slip their mind, but that is likely to have a very long-lasting impact!

    3. Georunner*

      Came here to say this!! You still have plenty of time to fill out that Census online, by phone , or by paper, so fill it out!

  6. RemoteHealthWorker*

    I dont think we can say lisa is doing anything wrong. Youd be surprised how many full time office workers also have part time jobs. Maybe lisas second employer is like gamestop or the myriad of other cruel and unsafe employers we have seen countless letters on.

    I mean what is more likely? Lisa was exposed to Covid and thought, hey while i have paid leave im going to get a pharmacy job for kicks! Or is it more likely lisa was already employed at two jobs and her second employer isnt taking covid seriously. We cant know so rather then op risking her current job, I think calling the pharmacy is the best action.

    1. Rollergirl09*

      If she was exposed and is supposed to be in isolation, she’s doing something wrong. Period. And many companies have some sort of language about what you can and can’t do with regards to secondary employment. Working at a secondary employer while getting isolation pay from your primary employer is a big deal. Especially if it is a benefit they are offering over and above your regular PTO.

      1. Dan*

        Secondary employment is a primary employer’s concern only if it creates a conflict of interest with the primary employer’s business activities. My day job is as a computer programmer, and my employer can restrict me from certain types of paid programming activity. They can’t restrict me from driving for Uber. Heck, I can call in sick and drive for Uber all day and it’s *still* not their business.

        “Isolation pay” is a benefit to the employer just as much (if not more so) than the employee. The employer is offering it to incentivize the employee to not spread the germs around the office.

        1. Rollergirl09*

          I just double checked my own employee handbook and it definitely has a clause about doing work for your other job that encroaches on time you’re supposed to be devoting to your primary employment. Calling in sick to drive for Uber would certainly be a terminable offense and I feel this situation is the same.

          1. Dan*

            Interesting. I have to invoice my time. If I invoiced time to my employer while I was out driving for Uber instead, that would be insta-fire, no questions asked, and for good reason. But I truly have flexible hours, so I can work my day job whenever I want, and I can drive for Uber whenever I want.

            And since I actually have PTO (and not sick time) at my primary job, I can take paid PTO for whatever reason and drive for Uber that day.

            1. Caliente*

              And your point is?
              Anyway why is this being debated? Like yeah, I’d love to go work my second job too but I’m not because oh there’s a worldwide quarantine. OMG I’d love to go to the movies right now- and I wouldn’t even get fired, yay!- but oh wait, worldwide quarantine.
              Keep your butt at home, Lisa! Why? There’s a worldwide quarantine you may not have heard about. Sheesh

            2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              How nice for you. It sounds like Lisa’s setup is different from yours.

              But I would have to think that if your employer was paying you to self-quarantine at home, they would (indeed) have a big problem if you were out Ubering while getting paid quarantine pay.

              Perhaps there is some confusion about the definition of the word “quarantine”?

        2. Myrin*

          Just as an aside, this really depends on where you are. In my country, many many contracts (we all have contracts) say that you do indeed have to notify your employer if you take on a second job; depending on what kind of job you have, you even absolutely have to do it anyway because it’s relevant for tax and deductions (that was the case for me personally). They can’t blatantly forbid me from additionally working somewhere else but I do have to inform them.

          1. Dan*

            That’s one of the weird things about US employment… employment contracts are the exception, not the norm, most people will never see one. Sure, we sign a bunch of papers on the first day of work, but unless it’s an actual contract, it all amounts to “we can let you go at any time for any reason so we’re not sure why we’re bothering with all of the paper work in the first place.” And when people ask, “Can I get fired for X?” The answer is always “yes, unless it’s for one of the few narrowly protected reasons covered under federal or state law.”

            Taxwise, yeah, different jobs will impact tax withholdings, *especially* if your second job pays less than the first. However, when we start a job, one of the umpteen million forms we sign is a tax withholding form, and there’s actually a lot of discretion in how those are filled out. So I can avoid telling Job A anything, and square it all up with Job B on the tax form.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              Not always. Montana is NOT an at-will state and California has some significant worker protections. So, not “always.”

              1. Aitch Arr*

                Montana is not a right-to-work state. Unlike the implications of the name, right-to-work laws give no right to employment. However, they do prohibit employers and unions from negotiating a contract that requires all employees to join a union after hiring or pay all or some portion of union dues that is used for bargaining and representation.

                1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

                  I didn’t say right to work, I said at will. There is a difference. Right to work has to do with unions.

      1. RemoteHealthWorker*

        I think it is easy to say that when you have a job that pays a living wage. Im privelaged to be in that position, but many of my coworkers do not have the luxury of risking being fired from their second jobs which they need for food and rent. If their second jobs demand they come in they will even if personally they hate the risk it brings to others and their family. My point is we dont know Lisa is being cavalier and Im also not willing to judge her character on so little info.

        1. valentine*

          Expanding her contacts and putting her household and coworkers at risk is wrong. Lying to get paid time off to work another job is wrong. Her motive and attitude don’t change this, we don’t know what they are, and they don’t matter. OP1 sitting on this info would also be wrong.

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            How do we know she’s lying to get paid time off?

            How do we know she hasn’t been working that other job before this crisis and is continuing it?

            “Expanding her contacts and putting her household and coworkers at risk is wrong.”
            It’s certainly bad, but who is responsible for this? What if she can’t make rent if she doesn’t do the second job, and will be out of her home right now? Maybe the second job will fire her if she doesn’t keep working. She may not have a choice. So the “wrong” may be coming from somewhere else.

            “I think it is easy to say that when you have a job that pays a living wage. Im privelaged to be in that position, but many of my coworkers do not have the luxury of risking being fired from their second jobs which they need for food and rent. If their second jobs demand they come in they will even if personally they hate the risk it brings to others and their family. My point is we dont know Lisa is being cavalier and Im also not willing to judge her character on so little info.”


            1. MissGirl*

              If she’s isn’t lying to get paid off that means she was exposed to COVID and she’s spreading it around to vulnerable people. Her reasons for the second job DO NOT matter. The health of the community comes first. The LW has an ethical requirement to report this to the pharmacy. I would not want this person delivering my medications, and I don’t think you do too.

              Her character is not mine to judge nor is her reasons for doing it. Those don’t matter.

            2. Leah K.*

              “Expanding her contacts and putting her household and coworkers at risk is wrong.”
              It’s certainly bad, but who is responsible for this? What if she can’t make rent if she doesn’t do the second job, and will be out of her home right now?

              Robbing people at gunpoint is wrong. It’s certainly bad, but who is responsible for this? What if she can’t make rent if she doesn’t rob someone tonight, and will be out of her home right now?

              1. Kat in VA*

                Lisa is responsible for her behavior.

                Again, either she is lying about being exposed to COVID-19 and double dipping with her second job…

                …or she’s telling the truth about being exposed to COVID-19 and not only double-dipping but also exposing untold numbers of people to extreme risk with her second job.

                Neither of those casts a good light on her morality.

                Put a different way – I don’t give a rat’s bubbly $hit who is “responsible” for this. What she’s doing is wrong and bad and she needs to stop. Now.

                1. Leah K.*

                  I was quoting valentine and showing them why their argument is ridiculous. We are saying the same thing.

              2. Tau*

                This analogy also came to mind. I am bewildered by how contentious this thing is. Like, I assume we can all agree that it would be wrong for anyone, no matter how dire their straits, to go out and murder a random person to steal their cash. If Lisa isn’t lying about having been exposed, her actions are not actually that far off.

            3. Blueberry*

              But that’s not how being in quarantine works. Are we really going to say “it’s okay if people risk death for the sake of the economy” along with Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick?

              I think the side discussion on what Lisa’s morals are is utterly pointless, and I think the economic vulnerabilities of many Americans are based in Republican-led social and economic policies that were created much earlier than this pandemic. And I personally think people should be able to have second jobs if they want to and that our society should have a better safety net so people don’t have to. The part I’m objecting to is the statement that it’s ok to disregard quarantine if one has a good enough reason. Virus transmission does not care about the reason.

              1. myswtghst*

                “The part I’m objecting to is the statement that it’s ok to disregard quarantine if one has a good enough reason. “

                This pretty much sums it up for me. No matter how dire Lisa’s financial straights, no matter how shitty her second employer *might* be, there is no version of this where my sympathy for Lisa’s worst case scenario outweighs my frustration that Lisa is yet another person not taking this quarantine seriously.

        2. A Silver Spork*

          Hi, I’m a person who’s had to work multiple jobs. My parents had to work 2-3 jobs each to support me and my siblings growing up. My maternal grandma as well, when my mother and her siblings were kids. And I am 150% judging Lisa for potentially exposing dozens of *potentially immunocompromised* people to a very, very serious illness. Over fifty thousand people have already DIED of COVID19 already, many of them, you guessed it, immunocompromised.

          What is this, the tragedy of the commons?

          1. Gingerblue*

            This! I don’t care how sympathetic someone’s reasons for trying to kill my mother are! I care about the part where they’re trying to kill my mother.

            If you know you’ve been exposed and you willingly expose others, you’re making a deliberate choice that you’re ok with murdering them to fulfill your wants.

          2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            So if you would have been out of on street if your parents didn’t work (which is possible in this case – not likely but possible), you would have thought that was the right move to protect society? That’s admirable.

            1. EPLawyer*

              you are really hammering this hard that Lisa has no choice but to work. Except there is literally no evidence of that in the letter. What we do know is Lisa has to self-isolate due to possible exposure and she is not. Period. That needs to be reported. If she has a defense Lisa can raise it. It’s not on OP to figure out excuses for WHY Lisa might be doing this. It’s on Lisa to explain why she is willfully ignoring stay at home directives from her employer (hello insubordination) and possibly exposing people who may DIE.

              This is not, I had to work 2 jobs to make ends meet, so I was really tired at work and messed up the TPS reports will I be fired? This is literally LIFE OR DEATH.

              1. Amanda*

                So much this. I don’t understant why people are putting it on OP not to report because Lisa *might* have a reason for what she’s doing. If she does have a reason, it’s 100% on her to raise it with her boss!

                1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

                  Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

                  This conviction that Lisa must be desperate and facing the choice between working this delivery job and loss of the roof over her head is ridiculous.

            2. Caliente*

              Come in, you’re being ridiculous. I grew up poor too, divorced mom with 2-3 jobs, latchkey, etc. and still think you need to stay home during a quarantine.

              1. Not Australian*

                Just a drive-by to thank you, AAM, for your patience in moderating this contentious discussion.

            3. A Silver Spork*

              You’re trying to get people to imagine a scenario where Lisa will be homeless, so, how about you imagine something too: think of your most immunocompromised loved one. Know anyone with AIDS or cancer? Someone who’s had an organ transplant and needs to take immunosuppresants to continue living? Anyone who’s pregnant? Any babies in the NICU? Elderly folks whose immune systems aren’t what they were thirty years ago?

              Think of how you’d feel if one of those people carefully isolated themself to avoid getting the virus… and then a careless delivery person transmitted it to them anyway because “oh well, gotta work anyway”. And then after a brief, painful illness, they died. Then to rub salt in the wound, *you can’t even attend their funeral*!

              Lisa might very well be homeless without this job. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s certainly a possibility. And yeah, homelessness is very hard to recover from. But death? Death is IMPOSSIBLE to recover from.

            4. Blueberry*

              You can come up with a story about a kid who will be out on the street if their parent doesn’t work two jobs during the pandemic, but another person can come up with a story about a kid who will be out on the street if their immunocompromised and working parent contracts Covid-19 and dies because someone else broke quarantine.

              If we brought both theoretical children face to face, how could we choose one to suffer and one to be spared?

            5. A*

              There is literally nothing that can be said that will entirely remove accountability on an individual level. It’s not ‘admirable’ that I’m sheltering in place at my expense and at great sacrifice, it’s me meeting the bare minimum obligation I have to my community and others. If I was truly that individualistic that I’d weigh my financial stability/comfort over the greater good, than I would be living off grid.

              Again, this is life or death. There shouldn’t even be a debate on this. I will take homelessness before I’d put others LIVES at risk.

        3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          That’s irrelevant, and it’s attitudes like yours that are causing the spread of this disease. If she’s lying about being exposed, she’s stealing from the company. And if she’s not lying about being exposed, she’s putting others at risk of catching it. I just read about an elderly man that a friend knew who died from COVID-19 and he never left his house.

        4. soon to be former fed really*

          If only your judgement mattered.You are assuming facts not in evidence. Its an effing PANDEMIC people! Geesh!

        5. Archaeopteryx*

          If she’s been exposed and she still choosing to work and breaking quarantine, she needs to be outed for it immediately as she’s a threat to untold numbers of people. Saying that whatever she does is justified because she might be in a bad financial situation is ridiculous – this is more the equivalent of if she was mugging people as a second job. The OP has a moral obligation not to hide this information.

          1. Amaranth*

            This. Lisa reported that she was exposed. If she can’t skip her second job for two weeks of isolation, then she has a responsibility to talk to Boss about an advance, or look into unemployment or ask her landlord for an extension, a collection at work, etc. Like tens of thousands of other people are doing. If she lied about exposure, then she can go do delivery full time.

        6. Agnodike*

          Sometimes people do things that are very wrong for very understandable reasons: they’re afraid, they’re ignorant, they’re dealing with poverty or illness that impairs their judgment or that removes some options for them. That doesn’t mean that what they’re doing isn’t wrong, just that there are reasons for doing the wrong thing beyond being a moustache-twirling villain.

        7. A*

          We are talking about LIFE OR DEATH. I agree with your sentiments, but this – the midst of an unprecedented pandemic – is not the time for macro level solutions to long standing issues resulting from our capitalistic society. I don’t care if it’s going to render me homeless – I would never, ever knowingly put others at risk just to save myself. I am currently sheltering in place, at my own expense and at great sacrifice – because that’s what needs to happen. My life/comfort/financial stability/whatever is not, and never will be, more important than that of the greater good. I sincerely hope we are not attempting to justify an approach that is so individualistic in these extreme extenuating circumstances.

        8. Nic*

          Nope. It’s not OK. This is not about a living wage; it’s about QUARANTINE and not being okay with killing people through your choice to be negligent.

          I know people who’re working one-person service jobs. The gardener and the roofer are still working, albeit with a lot more care to stay outside, use side-gates, keep away from the homeowner, and alter their payment methods (and a lot of cancellations for work that would have required house access), but only because their job already involves minimal human contact and they have no co-workers for the jobs they’re taking at the moment. The cleaner I know? This is her only income, and she’s not working at all right now. Because her clients, by and large, are elderly/disabled/vulnerable and she refuses to risk their health.

          If you’re working delivery right now – and especially delivery of medicines – then you need to be as certain as possible that you aren’t infecting people around you or the packages you deliver. If you’ve been told to quarantine yourself? Then you quarantine yourself. No if, no buts, no maybes. Stay inside for the duration.

      2. Dan*

        It’s hard to say from the letter what Lisa is “supposed” to be doing. First, and foremost, she is supposed to not go into the primary employer’s office, and she seems to be complying with that. Beyond that, OP mentions being in an area that isn’t known to have infections, and she mentions “being careful.” She doesn’t mention any government-imposed movement restrictions.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she’s been advised by a health care provider to quarantine (which is the standard advice if you’ve been exposed, as she says she was), that’s not just “don’t go to your office.” And it’s definitely not “go make deliveries to a variety of people.”

          1. RemoteHealthWorker*

            But if your boss says, dont care come in. What are you supposed to do if you have not been placed under an official state quarantine?

            Ideally yes stay home but not everyone can.

            1. valentine*

              not everyone can.
              They can. They choose not to. They’re choosing to risk more lives and, while you find that understandable, it’s objectively wrong.

              1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                “, while you find that understandable, it’s objectively wrong.”

                That’s pretty simplistic. Or at least is the consequence of her not staying home is, say, becoming homeless or not being able to afford essential medication, I’d say the “objectively wrong” is not from her, but from things that put her in that situation.

                I try to be a good person. But if my child needed medication to live, and I had the choice of getting and breaking quarantine, and or having them need to go to the ER while I stay home, I’m not sure what I would do. I sure don’t judge people if they are faced with this kind of choice.

                1. SarahTheEntwife*

                  If your child needs medication to live and you’re in quarantine, that’s exactly what the medication delivery in this question is for, and is another reason why a potentially contagious person *shouldn’t be making medication deliveries*.

                2. Archaeopteryx*

                  If you think it’s a difficult choice between following what medical professionals the world over are literally begging people to do and remaining in quarantine vs going out so you can get a paycheck, no matter how needed, then there are issues with how you’ve formed your conscience. You can’t sacrifice other people’s lives in that way.

                3. Old and Don’t Care*

                  She’s being asked to self isolate for two weeks, and is being paid by what is presumably her main gig. I think it’s a stretch to believe that two weeks off from a side gig (if it was an existing side gig) will have dire consequences.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              That is different from someone who has been identified as having exposure.

              Without that identified exposure, if the boss says do not come in, then you don’t go in to that job and you do whatever you need to do with other things. I should think that many people are picking up work as they can.

            3. Green great dragon*

              If the boss says don’t care come in, then that boss needs to be reported to his boss or to public health immediately – and OP telling the employer may start that process. This is exposure, not standard social distancing.

            4. soon to be former fed really*

              No, you stay home, period. I don’t understand your position at all, all this devil’s advocacy. Woefully inadequate testing, no treatment, no vaccine, physical distance is all we’ve got really. Folks really need to get there head out of there rear. There is absolutely no justification for a person who knows they have been exposed to not self-quarantine.

          2. Dan*

            But we don’t know that she’s gotten that directive from a health care provider or public health agency. All we know is that Lisa has allegedly been “exposed.” We do not know if Lisa has been to the doctor, been tested, or been given medical advice.

            You’re really big on not assuming things that haven’t been written — OP does not mention any interaction with health care personnel, and given the state of health care and testing right now, it’s not reasonable to assume that this person has gotten any directives from a health care provider.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              She says she’s been exposed, which means she needs to be quarantining. That is the advice for anyone who’s been exposed, period. That’s how you avoid spreading it. This is as basic as “stand 6 feet apart and don’t cough on someone.”

              Please excuse me while my head explodes now.

              1. Rollergirl09*

                Alison, my head is exploding as well for so many reasons. Mostly because regardless of what your municipality is doing, if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 you stay home. Period. Haven’t people ever heard, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should?”

              2. Dan*

                I think the hangup is on the meaning of “medical advice”. As a corollary, you post many things from lawyer friends of yours from time to time, and those things are *always* posted with the disclaimer “not legal advice.” The same is true for medical advice, yes? That is, if I don’t get it directly from my doctor, then it’s *not* medical advice. (I had to google it, and wiki says that medical advice is given in the context of a “doctor patient relationship”. That really matters here.)

                Don’t get me wrong. I’m not picking nits about best practices, darn good ideas, or really smart things to do if one wants to keep their health or not spread germs. But best I can tell, medical advice is like legal advice. I stand to be corrected if I’m wrong, but I’d need a source.

                1. LDN Layabout*

                  Do you really need a public health expert to tell you that being exposed to a high contagious virus, where the vast majority of people exposed are asymptomatic/only have mild symptoms means that you shouldn’t have repeated contact with vulnerable people?

                  The same way you don’t need a lawyer to tell you that you shouldn’t strip down naked in your open plan office and dance the Macarena at 9am on a Monday either.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Doctors and public health experts have been all over the news telling people that if they’ve been exposed, they need to quarantine. Period. There’s no “I’d need to talk with you more because maybe your situation is special.” They’re giving this advice to the entire public. You don’t need to talk to your own doctor to hear it.

                  So no, medical advice in this case is not like legal advice.

                  I’m not going to host any further comments undermining public health advice here when people’s lives are literally at stake, so you need to leave this here.

                3. Uldi*

                  Which country or state would you like me to link you to? The standard recommendation of national and international health organizations is: self-quarantine for at least 10 days, preferably 14 days, if you suspect you have had contact with someone infected by COVID-19. I can link you the news reports, if you like, but they are easily found online.

                  Italy has a near total national quarantine and severally limits what the population is allowed to do.

                  Most US states have issued stay-at-home orders and closed schools, parks, restaurant dinning rooms, bars, and beaches. All on the advice of the CDC and epidemiologists.

                  France has also issued a lockdown.

                  And those are just off the top of my head.

                4. Tallulah in the Sky*

                  So, if she actually didn’t get proper “medical advice”, it’s ok for Lisa to potentially spread the coronavirus to many (sick) people ? Nevermind the miriad of doctors, healthcare professionals and experts who have repeatedly said “If you’ve been exposed, stay home” ?

                  Lisa is doing something wrong, period. You might be right, she might be in a very shitty situation where she feels she needs to do this, doesn’t mean she isn’t doing something wrong. She is potentially spreading the virus and is repeatedly coming in contact with sick people. This is wrong.

                5. Tallulah in the Sky*

                  As for whether or not Lisa is doing something wrong towards the company… Why not let them judge that ? We don’t know her company, the company handbook, not even what state this is happening. We are hearing all of this from someone who doesn’t know exactly what happened or what was said. It’s possible Lisa is in the clear and is respecting the company guidelines, but since there’s a clear possibility she isn’t (I know that if I’m sick now and am supposed to self-isolate, I’ll be fired if I don’t respect that as much as I can, no matter the reason, second job or wanting to visit friends and family), and given how her behavior could harm others, I don’t think OP would be wrong to notify their company of what they saw.

                6. Myrin*

                  @Tallulah, that’s an extremely good point as well, and one that’s been brought up on AAM numerous times in the past on topics where people tend to become pearlclutchy “But what about the children?!”-y when someone even so much as suggests calling the police or a lawyer or similar in certain situations. If you call and they say “Well, what do I care?” then all the better – you’ve done your due diligence!

                7. Head Also Exploding*

                  The digging in of your heels that you are demonstrating here is why this virus has exploded in the US. American exceptionalism, looking for reasons to justify individual behavior, etc. We are seeing examples of this everywhere in defiance of shelter-in-place and I’m saddened to see this comments section as no exception.

                  Sometimes you have to look out for the common good. Especially when lives are literally on the line.

                8. Akcipitrokulo*

                  If a lawyer said on TV to the whole country “do not drive while drunk” then you don’t need to consult with your personal legal representative to take that advice.

                9. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                  “The digging in of your heels that you are demonstrating here is why this virus has exploded in the US. American exceptionalism, looking for reasons to justify individual behavior, etc.”

                  I think it’s totally legit to justify individualism if the person in question has been subject to the predation of an individualistic system: needing to do two jobs to survive, will be in dire straits if she does not. If this is the case, of course she’s doing what she needs to in order to survive. It’s not about her but about our society (including people like me who are comfortable and people who profit from this system). I don’t know if that’s the case, but if it it, I sympathize with her and do not judge.

                  In other words, don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

                  If we want to stop this happening, we need to look upstream at what makes someone behave this way. Change the game: universal health care. Living wage. Paid sick leave from all jobs. That will take time.

                  In the short run, it has to be emergency financial support for people who need it, easy to obtain, such as rent support, etc.

                10. buffty*

                  “Maybe Lisa is just really good at driving drunk, who knows! Maybe Lisa had to drive drunk to feed her family, who knows! Maybe Lisa didn’t even check her BAC after pounding shots, who knows if she’s even drunk! I’m sure it’s not my place to say anything, as she weaves through a pedestrian heavy area.”

                11. Yorick*

                  @pleaset AKA cheap rolls: You’re really just making this all up. We don’t know that Lisa is so poor and desperate that she must work 2 jobs. We don’t know that the second job forced her to make deliveries or she would be fired. What we do actually know is that she’s been exposed to COVID and therefore should be staying home, but she’s not. This is bad and OP should tell their shared employer, the delivery service, and the public health department.

                12. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @pleaset AKA cheap rolls: You are speculating way beyond what’s in the letter (in many comments here). I’m going to ask you to hang back now because it’s really derailing the conversation.

                13. James*

                  This is called an isolated demand for rigor. It sounds reasonable and noble to ask for sources–but since you don’t follow your own standards, it becomes apparent (whether true or not is another issue) that this call for rigor isn’t intended to comply with rhetorical standards, but rather to establish an insurmountably high bar for your opponents.

                  There is no real equivalent in the legal world for medical response to a pandemic. Medical advice in this context isn’t geared towards an individual, but towards society as a whole. The best parallel I can come up with in the legal world is “Don’t incite or engage in armed rebellion against your government”, a statement which certainly wouldn’t necessitate any sort of disclaimer.

                  Being as generous as possible your entire argument hangs on mere semantics. We both know what Alison means. We both know that the advice on how to address this pandemic is being enforced by law enforcement officials (since you’re keen on sources, see Orange County, California). Whether someone calls it “medical advice” or “pandemic guidelines” or something else isn’t a significant matter; the pertinent factor is the concept being discussed, not the specific name. (Yes, I am aware of situations where semantics are important; my point isn’t hat we can ignore semantics in general, I’m just saying that we can in this specific case.)

                  Further, your entire premise is flawed. You’re treating a blog comment section as if it were a legal brief or an academic journal. The standards are different here–and that really matters. You can’t treat standard English as if it were a legal document; the language doesn’t work that way. This is non-controversial; this is in fact why legal documents sound the way they do (and why this post reads so strangely; I’m intentionally avoiding standard English conventions). To misapply standards of rhetorical rigor is a fallacy.

                  Even ignoring the fact that your argument would get people killed–and believe me, that’s NOT something we should ignore!!!–your argument, by itself, is critically flawed and we therefore cannot accept your conclusions as valid.

                14. Sarah*

                  This is literally the difference between medical and public health advice. Medical advice: you have x disease, treat it this way. Public health advice: x disease spreads as such, take these steps to prevent it. Public health recommendations are based on the condition itself and therefore applicable to all exposed, whereas medical advice is based on the individual person and therefore unique. Any qualified public health professional can give public health advice in any format, one on one or via TV/public avenues, and it should always be listened to or obeyed because it will not be different in different settings. In a pandemic situation, it is the role of public health professionals to slow the spread and the role of doctors to treat infected patients. Ergo, advice from public health professionals carries equal/greater weight than advice from doctors in terms of isolation, quarantine, etc. Stop trying to find zebras when these are all just freaking horses. -a certified health education specialist

                15. Massmatt*

                  You really ARE picking nits and you need to stop. The advice (and laws, in many places) are clear about avoiding contact to reduce infection. If everyone ignored them with the rationale that “well, MY doctor didn’t specifically tell ME not to deliver prescriptions after exposure” we’d be looking at 1-100x more infections.


                16. Coffee Bean*

                  This is not medical advice given to one person in a unique situation. This is advice given to everyone who has been exposed to Covid-19. It’s a pandemic with potentially dire consequences for those who contract the disease. Comparing Alison seeking legal advice and applying a disclaimer for a single unique query she has received is not the same as reiterating established medical advice in the wake of a pandemic.

                17. EventPlannerGal*

                  How on earth is that supposed to work? This is, as has been repeated so many times, a global pandemic. Do you believe that every person in every affected country should be making an appointment with their healthcare provider, explaining their specific medical and economic circumstances and getting a personalised judgement on whether that specifically are okay to go outside? How do you envision that working?

                  It’s a pandemic. It’s everywhere. You need to wash your hands and stay home. That’s the medical advice. Stop nitpicking.

                18. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

                  Please go check: worldofmeters[dot]info[slash]coronavirus

                  Look at those numbers. Refresh in a few hours, check those numbers again. Refresh tomorrow, look at those numbers again. THIS IS HOW SERIOUS THIS IS!

                  Quarantine needs to be respected for a reason!

                19. Amaranth*

                  Tests aren’t available for ‘mere’ exposure in most places even when you have symptoms, so we all have a responsibility to self-isolate and not put people we love and random strangers at risk.

              3. soon to be former fed really*

                Alison, my head is exploding too. Ignorance is as dangerous as this virus. What is wrong with some people? I’m in the high-risk category and folks with the attitude of someof the posters here today will kill me. Good grief.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I’m trying really hard to find a way of wording a reply to this comment that won’t sound rude. I’m really, really trying.

              OP1 doesn’t mention whether or not Lisa went to the doctor, because how many of us really know for certain when our coworkers go to the doctor or what that doctor recommends for the coworker’s health? It’s none of OP1’s business. But they *do* know that whatever Lisa told their boss was convincing enough for the boss to put Lisa on paid leave. Staff have been told that Lisa is in isolation, which leads me to believe that isolation is what the company wants and expects her to be doing.

              And honestly? If a person has been exposed to an illness that is contagious, it is ABSOLUTELY not okay to be around other people they could potentially pass that illness to. You do not go to the homes of vulnerable people while you are waiting out the potential contagious period of an illness. Lisa is not in the right here.

              1. Dan*

                What Lisa is doing is a matter for the public health authorities and the delivery service Lisa drives for. OP wrote in asking whether OP should tell their shared primary employer. I just don’t think that’s where the beef is.

                Public heath and delivery service? Absolutely. Shared primary employer? I’m not seeing it.

                1. Avasarala*

                  How about, “Hey one of the employees on paid quarantine, Lisa, is actually out working doing deliveries to sick people. So either she lied to us (company 1), or she is violating company orders to stay home and isolate.”

                2. Tallulah in the Sky*

                  @Avasarala : Nope, OP should just notify the company, not make any assumptions to themselves, not judging an employee’s action. Because, who knows, maybe she’s not violating company’s orders (who knows, some people here find Lisa’s actions ok, at least towards the company, they could too), and it’s not an employer’s place I think to say those kind of things. I’d go more with a vibe of :

                  “Hey, there’s something concerning I saw that I would like to share. I know Lisa is supposed to be self-isolating right now because she’s been exposed to the new coronavirus, but I saw her delivering medication to my Uncle on [date]. I already notified the delivery service / pharmacy / health care department /… of this, but I thought it would be best to notify the company also.”

                3. Asenath*

                  Don’t forget the police. Admittedly, laws are different in different areas, but if Lisa lived in my area, she would be arrested if she had been exposed – or even just arrived from another country or province – and then caught out in the street before her 14 days were up. It’s happened. Now, that’s not the same as notifying her employer – but if her primary employer gave her paid leave so she could go into isolation at home, and she’s not staying in isolation, her primary employer needs to know. She is (a) not following her employer’s instructions while taking their pay and (b) increasing the risk she’ll bring infection to her workplace when she returns.

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  She flat out lied to the company. I find this concerning.

                  When ever someone gives us money there are always strings attached. Always. She accepted the money with the specific promise she would stay home. She did not stay home. She broke her promise. And she was being paid to keep that particular promise.

                  If she just asked for general PTO and it was granted, I’d see no problem here. But that is not what she asked for.

                5. Batgirl*

                  Because the employer is the person who Lisa reported the exposure to. They will have those claims in writing and documentation of the paid leave. They also have more standing to report an employee to health authorities and the pharmacy as a business. For all the health authority/pharmacy knows, OP is a rogue busybody. It’s her word against Lisa’s. The truth of the matter (fraudulent profiteering, plague spreading or the pharmacy itself endangering lives) will only be revealed if everyone is communicating.
                  I am quite astonished at this ‘Whose business is it?’ and ‘But what was Lisa DIRECTLY ordered to do?’ nitpickery. Preventing coronavirus spread is the business and responsibility of anyone who can help stop people dying. For goodness sake, pull together!

                6. Sam.*

                  I think her primary employer definitely would (and should) be concerned about the possibility that Lisa actually catches the virus on day 12 or 13 of “quarantine” and shows back up at work a few days later.

                7. Jill*

                  The whole point of her employer giving her this extra benefit is so that she won’t be a risk to employees. If she’s not taking that seriously they have no guarantee that she’s not a risk when she gets back. If she’s found to have another known contact with someone infected due to the second job do they have to pay her again? Taking a sick day to work Grubhub because you need a little extra one month is one thing, employers complain about doing it at lunch and that’s debatable, but this is entirely different.

                8. CentsofTime*

                  Dan, what if Lisa gets sick from making her deliveries and then returns to work after her 14 day quarantine? Then she will be putting the health of OP, her colleagues and many other people at risk. This DOES involve the OP & Lisa’s shared primary employer. I am not sure why you can’t see that.

                  Lisa & OP’s employer directed Lisa to quarantine for 14 days before returning to work. If she is making these deliveries and exposing herself to the virus, she is not following the employer’s order to quarantine.

            3. Yorick*

              What are you talking about? We’ve ALL already gotten medical advice to self-quarantine if we know we’ve been exposed to COVID.

            4. fhqwhgads*

              NO ONE should need to have been explicitly told this by a health provider at this point. This is all over television, news, a running ticker on PBS when you watch programming. It is virtually impossible to not know that if you’ve been exposed, you absolutely should stay at home. If she knows enough about this to tell her employer she was exposed and get the quarantine leave, she knows she should not be out and about AT ALL.

            5. Blueberry*

              ” OP does not mention any interaction with health care personnel, and given the state of health care and testing right now, it’s not reasonable to assume that this person has gotten any directives from a health care provider.”

              How would OP be able to know how Lisa determined she needed quarantine? She’s Lisa’s coworker, not supervisor. I don’t usually ask my coworkers if/when they talk to their doctors. That alone doesn’t mean they never talk to their doctors.

        2. Yorick*

          The letter says Lisa is not at work because she’s known to have been exposed to COVID. That means she is “supposed” to be staying at home.

        3. Caliente*

          How is this difficult? She was told to stay home. She literally has no decision to make all she has to do is comply with a direct freaking order.

        4. Nic*

          It’s not hard to say what Lisa’s supposed to be doing at all. First and foremost, she is supposed to be quarantining herself at home and staying away from other people. Her employer isn’t paying her just to stay away from them; they’re paying her to actively stay at home and not go near anyone else for a fortnight, so that they can be certain as possible she’s in the clear when she comes back.

      3. Jenny Jones*

        She is delivering medication to sick people. It has been reported that the virus lives on paper and plastic for a period. So the group she is delivering medication to may be at a higher risk.
        I am more than willing to judge her character if she is still out knowing she was exposed to Covid 19 and should be self isolating.
        I had a test done and was told to stay in the house until the results came back. And that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t make grocery runs or start driving for door dash while waiting for my results.
        It’s extremely selfish to expose other people to a deadly virus.
        She’s being paid by her job to do just that and I can’t believe anyone is arguing that she should be allowed to still deliver medication to sick people.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The problem with this scenario is that if Lisa’s currently working her second job because her employer won’t let her take time off even if she’s been exposed to COVID, reaching out to said employer is going to do less than nothing. They will make sympathetic noises over the phone or reply with a disingenuous email about how seriously they’re taking the crisis, but they will not stop their COVID exposed employees from working if they’ve already decided not to.

      The point in OP1 going to the boss is not to get Lisa fired. It’s to inform the company that one of their employees may very well come back from quarantine still contagious and able to infect other staff. If OP1 wants to, they can include a line when they talk to their boss about how they know some companies are still requiring their employees to work even if they’re sick, and it’s terrible for Lisa if her second job has put her in this position. But really, all OP1 can do at this point is give their boss the information they have, and from there it’s up to the boss to decide how to handle it.

      1. RemoteHealthWorker*

        Im not quite following your logic here. Lets say lisa was isolated. Comes back to work on day 15. On day 16, shes becomes the same risk as all her coworkers with pt jobs.

        Shes high risk now, but after 14 days her risk will be the same as the rest of the workforce so OPs employer wont have much cause to worry about her return to work being at risk=normal vs risk=low. They decided that now, while she is at risk=high to pay her to stay away. But they aren’t losing out on any more then 1 days low risk compared to the rest of their employees?

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          The more people you come into contact with right now, the more opportunities you’re encountering to be exposed to the virus. So, if Lisa was exposed and told to quarantine, and then stayed home as directed by her doctor, then by the end of her quarantine period she would not likely be contagious.

          But Lisa is not staying home. She is going out over and over and over and encountering a number of people every single day. So let’s say Lisa doesn’t ever develop COVID symptoms and gets to day 14 of what is supposed to be her isolation. On day 14, if she’s still going out and being in contact with people, she could very well meet up with another person with COVID. Now she’s been exposed again. Now she’s potentially contagious again. And now that her paid leave is up, she could be going back to work carrying a virus that could infect her coworkers.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            Your second paragraph describes every employee that reports to work every day. Any of them could be exposed at any time and expose employees at the office. It also describes Lisa if she had sat at home for two weeks and then resumed her second job when her self isolation was over.

            Of course I think that Lisa should self isolate and comply with her employer’s instructions in that regard. But those instructions are based on a specific, known exposure, which has already occurred. Any future opportunities for exposure are no different than for any other employee.

            1. Blueberry*

              “Any future opportunities for exposure are no different than for any other employee.”

              But that’s not really true. By which I mean:

              If Lisa stays home for 14 days and interacts with no one, she has no new chances to be infected. Then she goes out to work and resumes the standard chances of being infected, but since she showed no symptoms for 14 days she can be [reasonably] assumed to not be bringing in the virus and not raising her coworkers’ chances of being infected.

              If Lisa goes twice each day and interacts with 3 people each trip, that’s six chances to be infected per day, even if everyone is asymptomatic. When she returns to work she’ll have had 6×14=84 chances to be infected, and since she may not have developed symptoms yet no one can know if she is infected, including her herself. So she can’t be assumed to be virus-free and incapable of infecting her coworkers.

              I don’t want to come up with a “possibility of infection per exposure” number, even for this hypothetical, but still, 84 exposures must run a higher chance of infection than 0 exposures, right?

              1. Amaranth*

                Yes, even if she did her isolation correctly, at the end she’d go back to the extra job and have that same chance of exposure. She isn’t on isolation leave to stop her from possibly getting sick from outside contact, its because of the known exposure, so she avoids getting OTHER people sick until they rule it out.

        2. Temperance*

          Actually, RemoteHealthWorker, her risk will NOT be “the same as the rest of the workforce”, because she has been exposed to potentially dozens of other people, who might have reinfected her. So this is extremely important for her employer to know.

          Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

          1. Kat in VA*

            An easier way to look at it is any time anyone leaves your house, including you, the incubation rate drops back to zero. That’s you, your husband, your kids, whatever. Every time you hit the grocery store, your son goes to the gas station, you get an Amazon box delivered, hell, if you pick up your mail without gloves. Every single instance of contact, even indirectly, resets the incubation clock.

            1. Kat in VA*

              Sorry. I’m really tired. What I meant to say was the “incubation clock resets to 14 days” not drops to zero. I have one more meeting from 4-5 and then THIS ten hour day should be over…

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “Or is it more likely lisa was already employed at two jobs and her second employer isnt taking covid seriously. ”

      This is a good point. A key question is, is she doing the second job during time when she would normally be at the first job?

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        It doesn’t matter. If she was exposed, she needs to tell the delivery service she has to quarantine. If they claim they don’t care, she needs to be a responsible human, at the risk of losing the second job, and tell them she can’t work for 14 days. At best, she’s lying to her main job and at worst she’s exposing countless individuals to the virus.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “It doesn’t matter. ” It *absolutely* matters on the issue of double dipping as a reason to fire her, which is what I was replying to.

          “she needs to be a responsible human, at the risk of losing the second job,”

          Would you do that if it meant being homeless? Would you do that if it meant you couldn’t get medicine for your child and would have to go to the emergency room/hospital to deal with it? Choosing a possible risk to your and other people’s lives versus certainty of being on the street or your kid being sick?

          I don’t know if that’s the case for the person in question, but it’s certainly possible in America.

          So yeah, if you would be willing to be homeless to help others, bravo. You’re a better person than me. I hope I’d do that, but can’t promise it.

          1. soon to be former fed really*

            Gee thanks for not giving a damn about public health during an effing pandemic.

          2. Yorick*

            Where in the letter does it say that Lisa is at risk of becoming homeless? Where does it say that Lisa has a sick kid that would need to go the ER if she doesn’t do deliveries? (Also, by doing deliveries, she’s putting her fictional sick kid at much more risk)

            Honestly, if the job she works at with OP is paying people to stay home during self-quarantine, I’m betting they pay a living wage.

            1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

              “Honestly, if the job she works at with OP is paying people to stay home during self-quarantine, I’m betting they pay a living wage.”


            2. A Silver Spork*

              Yeah, that seems likely (though not guaranteed) – I feel like OP1 would have mentioned if they worked for McWendyKing Wallmazon or something.

          3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            If you know you were exposed to the virus and still choose to go to work, regardless of your financial situation, you are part of the problem. The longer people ignore orders, the longer this will continue, and the crappier the economy will be. There are programs in place to help those who are struggling financially.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              True, none of this is in the letter, but the statement “it’s very likely not to be the case” is ALSO speculation. I’d recommend suspending -all- commentary, because those painting Lisa’s character in a bad light have no more factual basis for their conclusions than those painting Lisa’s character in a good light or those saying “oh, she doesn’t have a choice”.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                In nearly every case I can remember where commenters bent over backwards to find excuses for the behavior of someone in a letter, when the letter itself did not contain details supporting that,
                when the LW showed up and provided more details those excuses have almost never turned out to reflect the reality of the situation. So yes, based on years of observing the pattern with this particular comment section (and what letter writers seem to include and not include), I stand by “very likely not the case.”

                1. Massmatt*

                  Yes, we are seeing a lot of “what about-ism”, devil’s advocating, and excuse making on behalf of Lisa, I have no idea why.

                  Lisa didn’t write in for advice saying she’s on leave after having been exposed to the virus but needed to work the extra job or risk becoming homeless.

                  We get many letters here about terrible bosses, coworkers, and employers, the recurring posts of “what about if the boss…” or “but maybe the coworker…” are generally annoying. In this case we are talking not just about a bad coworker but a coworker who could be threatening public health, and the “whatabout-ism” is especially egregious.

              2. Phony Genius*

                Alison painted Lisa’s character in a bad light. Should she delete her own response? There’s a difference between reasonable assumptions and speculation.

                1. Database Developer Dude*

                  I didn’t ask for anything to be deleted. As far as I’m concerned, it’s -all- speculation. The only thing the OP knows is that Lisa claimed to have been exposed to COVID-19 and is making pharmaceutical deliveries. Call the Health Department on her, or call her delivery employer, fine, because if it’s true, she is putting people in danger. Those are the only facts in this letter. Everything else is speculation.

              3. James*

                Let’s look at the facts, then.

                1) We are in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a century. There are areas where they’ve run out of coffins to bury the dead.
                2) Lisa has been exposed to this virus.
                3) Lisa is under quarantine.
                4) The LW saw someone they are certain is Lisa delivering medicine. (I will take the LW at her word, but for this exercise we’re sticking with only facts from the letter, and identification is always an interpretation.)

                Giving Lisa the benefit of every doubt, her actions are still wrong. Maybe she needs the money, maybe she’ll be homeless without it, maybe she owes the Russian mob and they’ll break her kneecaps if she doesn’t pay (if we’re speculating may as well make it interesting, right?). Doesn’t matter.

                Lisa is under quarantine. She has NO business doing deliveries, regardless of any other consideration. I mean, I’d feel bad if Lisa got her kneecaps broken, but at the end of the day our goal right now–as individuals and as a society–is to shut down this virus. Unfortunately that means life isn’t going to be a bed of roses for everyone. We can wish it were otherwise, but that’s the reality of the situation. And if we relax control measures for each case where someone might possibly have a chance of being inconvenienced, we may as well not have control measures at all. And millions will die.

                Most of us are very fortunate that we’ve never had to think along those lines before. We need to now.

                1. Database Developer Dude*

                  So call the health department on Lisa or the cops. Don’t be calling the shared primary employer, because then it’s not about her exposing people, it’s about her double-dipping. The OP isn’t her boss, she’s her peer.

                2. Yorick*

                  Database Developer Dude, this isn’t just about double dipping. The shared employer is paying her to quarantine so she doesn’t infect people. They have a right to know that she didn’t take the precautions they think she did before they let her return to work.

                3. James*

                  There are a few issues here, Database Developer Dude.

                  1) Is it ethical to use paid time off to work another job? I say yes. If it’s time off I can use it as I choose. The very concept of a side hustle demands that we be able to use time off as we choose. I’ve known many people who take PTO and do things like flip houses, give horseback riding lessons, even make crafts for sale, and no one in any company I’ve encountered thinks the worse of them (usually the reaction is “That’s neat! How much again? My mother-in-law would love this!”)

                  2) Is it ethical to use sick days to work another job? I say no. PTO/personal days are one thing: you have no obligation to tell an employer what you’re doing for those. Sick leave, however, is you saying “I’m too sick to work”. Lying here is fraud.

                  If you’re on PTO and doing a side gig, that’s no one’s business but your own. If you LIED TO YOUR EMPLOYER, they should be made aware of this.

                  I don’t know about you, but my employer trusts me with some pretty important stuff. A lot of money, a healthy chunk of their reputation, and the lives of those working under me (my occupation has some inherent dangers; we do what we can, but methyl ethyl death is still methyl ethyl death). My relationship with my employer only works as long as trust is maintained. If they think they can’t trust me to be a responsible adult and be open with them about why I’m taking time off (and remember, the options are “sick” and “I don’t need to say”), they cannot–and SHOULD NOT–trust me with money or reputation, and it would be criminal negligence to trust me with lives. A peer that found out about me committing fraud would have a moral obligation, if not an obligation as an employee, to inform my superiors.

                4. A Silver Spork*

                  Not to detract from your point, but the Russian mob likely wouldn’t break a person’s kneecaps – they tend to prefer methods that don’t leave physical marks, like psychological torture or hitting people in a place that doesn’t bruise. Whether that’s better or worse depends on what you’re afraid of.

                  …please don’t ask me how I know this!

                5. James*

                  Good to know. :) And no judgement on my part–I know some pretty creepy stuff myself.

          4. Risha*

            I’ve been homeless, and I assure you I find Lisa’s behavior here morally reprehensible, and your and Dan’s whataboutism almost as much so.

      2. James*

        If I take PTO to pilot a boat for someone who’s paying me, does it matter that I do it when I’d normally be at work? No. I’m on PTO; what I do with it is my business. Or, if I were to volunteer with, say, a local fire auxiliary or the local zoo, and took PTO to do it, the company wouldn’t care (actually they’d probably commend me). If Lisa wants to moonlight part time, and uses PTO to do it, that’s on her, as long as it doesn’t affect her performance at work.

        The issue here isn’t the second job. The issue is that she’s either 1) committing fraud to get time off, thus violating the trust her employer has placed in her, or 2) exposing people to a virus that’s projected to kill between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the USA alone.

        1. KimberlyR*

          She isn’t on PTO. She didn’t request time off work to do whatever she wanted. She is on paid quarantine leave. She is literally getting paid to stay home and quarantine herself, and to not leave her house multiple times a day/week (however many deliveries she makes for the pharmacy.)

          1. Nic*

            I think that’s James’s point, arguing against the people claiming that LW’s employer doesn’t need to know about the side-hustle. They do need to know, because this isn’t just PTO and a side-hustle; it’s quarantine plus a secondary job that’s repeatedly breaking that quarantine.

      3. A*

        This…also doesn’t matter. What the heck is going on here today?!?! Again, this is life or death. The reasoning for her being out when she is supposed to be self quarantined DOES NOT MATTER. Regardless of why, it is not ok!

    4. Jdc*

      Seriously? At least this is risky to others and at most it’s fraud. I won’t be surprised to find out after this there will be consequences for defaulting employers and unemployment. Especially if that business receives financial help from the government for these expenses.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      My thought is that Lisa has had this 2nd job for a while. Many people do. Not taking into account the COVID stuff One thing I wonder about is if Lisa was making deliveries durring the time she would normally be working for the other employer, I could see this as a problem. However if it’s outside of her normal hours that’s not an issue.
      If she was exposed to COVID she should not be working at all. However I can see one point that someone else said. Lisa’s other employer may not have a policy about COVID and she may be forced to work or else get fired from her second job. If she wasn’t making deliveries during the time she would normally be working I don’t think the letter writer should say something, except maybe find out what the other employers policy is, if she can.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        What I’ve seen in the commentariat so far is that even people who are willing to give Lisa the benefit of the doubt that this is 1. her 2nd employer for a while, and 2. not happening during the hours she would have been at the first job and 3. her 2nd employer saying “come in or be fired”……are saying “too bad, give up your 2nd job then, even if the lack of that income leaves you homeless”.

        1. Phony Genius*

          Let’s simplify. Let’s say that you are working at a job that, if you lose it, you will wind up homeless. Your boss says that in order to keep your job, you have to do task X in Y amount of time (say a delivery). But the only way to accomplish this is to break the law and endanger other people (say by speeding and running red lights). You have a legal and moral obligation to lose that job and become homeless. No court in the U.S. will allow a legal defense of “I would get fired” for breaking public safety laws.

        2. Blueberry*

          If Lisa’s homelessness were a stated factor I’d be saying “we should ask, and the government should insist, that Lisa’s landlord suspend her rent. If the landlord cites mortgages as a reason not to suspend rent we should petition the bank to suspend mortgage payments.” All of which is systemic.

          But that is a separate, even though related, question from whether Lisa should break quarantine, and if she does whether her breaking of quarantine should be reported, which is the question we currently have before us. Advising someone not to break quarantine isn’t about “too bad, sucks to be you,” it’s about prevention of disease transmission.

        3. BuildMeUp*

          No. No, no, no, no.

          They are saying “Stay home so you don’t potentially kill people.” That is what this is about. Not this fanfiction you are writing right now, which is not supported by anything in the letter.

          People who go against THE ADVICE OF THE CDC during a PANDEMIC do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

          I cannot believe this is being debated. This is not complicated and COVID-19 does not need a devil’s advocate.

        4. Avasarala*

          “Too bad, give up your 2nd job then, even if the lack of that income leaves you homeless.”

          Yes. Because continuing with your 2nd job will kill people.

        5. Nic*

          She’s not going to be homeless.

          Job 1 is paying her – full time pay – to quarantine. We know that Lisa is ranked up a notch and sideways from LW’s job, so she’s not being paid less than LW. We know that LW hasn’t mentioned any financial hardship attached to the job. Therefore, there is no reason to assume that Lisa is being paid less than a living wage.

          Now sure, we could speculate some more and say “maybe Lisa has a gambling problem” or “maybe Lisa’s husband has medical debts”, to create a financial justification for why she MUST break quarantine – but that’s a futile fantasy. Please. Do as Alison has asked repeatedly, and stop “what if”-ing to defend the indefensible!

  7. Rollergirl09*

    #2 goes with #4 the company can’t have you do work for which you are not paid. When you leave the company, you are no longer employed by them and they cannot “make” you work. If they won’t take no for an answer, report them to the labor department.

    #4, while admirable of your employees, they should have zero access to company information now that they aren’t actively working. Revoke their access now. At my company you get your access revoked even if you go on a two week medical leave. Why? Because that’s how you protect your company’s internal information.

    1. Amy Sly*

      I’d just like to point out another option for LW#4: presumably they’re furloughed because the company doesn’t have their normal workload available for them. But if the phone calls/emails with the clients are actually important for helping the business stay updated or maintain its vendor relationships, it may be worth paying them for maybe two or three hours a week to handle that work.

      1. Amaranth*

        What concerns me is that LW mentioned they are working with vendors and *patients* — that makes me think there could be some fairly serious liabilities if they are giving them assistance or advice without being formally with the company.

    2. The Jones*

      OP4 Can your IT or Admin team set an auto-reply to all emails coming in to those employees (or even the domain), so their/your customers don’t feel abandoned?

  8. EBG*

    #1: There are many countries where what Lisa is doing is illegal (breaking quarantine). If you are in one of those locations, you can report her to the Ministry of Health, the police, or whatever authority is overseeing this. Then you can avoid workplace issues.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Here in NYS courts are prepared to do mandatory quarantine orders. I don’t know if they are doing them yet, but people can find themselves in legal hot water if this drags on.

      Unfortunately, the Lisas of the world will be blindsided by this one. The moral of the story is don’t say you have been exposed if you have not, and do not say you have the virus if you don’t. This could turn around and bite a person very hard.

      I have all the empathy in the world for people with money concerns. But now is an extraordinarily bad time to “work the system” on anything. We can look for ways to remain compliant to earn an extra check. I think it is safe to assume that if OP does not report this person then someone else WILL.

    2. Doc in a Box*

      Yes, please report to your relevant public health authority. I can’t comment on whether the first employer has to get involved, but the department of health needs to know that someone is breaking quarantine (not to mention doing so by making deliveries to medically vulnerable individuals!)

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’ve got a lot more respect for someone who will report this to the relevant public health authority than someone who will merely rat her out to the primary employer.

  9. RemoteHealthWorker*

    I just read up on furloughs and if anyone works at all, a single phone call or even an email, you have to pay them. Its very strict since its not a layoff. Many employers revoke all access and equipment to insure no work is done.

    Sadly many hospitals are starting to furlough workers as revenue is down with less elective surgeries. They plan to call us back in when covid ramps up in our area though. Yay….

    1. TechWorker*

      Can you make sure they all have the opportunity to set up an OOO and voicemail explaining the situation (plus where to go for something urgent, if anyone *is* still working, or that they’ll be contacted once the employee is working again etc?). If part of the concern from these employees is that their clients/vendors might feel ignored that would seem reasonable?

      1. RemoteHealthWorker*

        Automated alerts are fine. Logging in to set those up is work though and cant be done in furlough.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When my husband was on short term disability this is what he was told also regarding even a single phone call or a single email. So we have seen this before, it seems consistent.

  10. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    #2 “My company expects people to keep working long after they quit”

    “[My company has] . . . even reached out to someone who was fired for help with a project.”


    That got me so upset that I couldn’t even continue reading the other three questions before writing this response.

    Alison says that one possible answer to the titular question would be to just clearly and directly say I DON’T WORK FOR YOU, “but when you can achieve the same outcome without telling them off, most of the time you might as well.”

    Maybe it’s a character flaw… maybe it’s cynicism… I don’t know, but if somebody who FIRED me subsequently reached out to me because they need help with a project, why SHOULDN’T I want to tell them off? “YOU FIRED ME. I NO LONGER WORK FOR YOU. WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I’M GOING TO HELP YOU?” sounds pretty good to me.

    (And I’m sure some of you out there are going to get on my case because there’s something I may not have thought of, some reason why the person in this example who was fired should still be civil to the people who fired him but still expect him to help them out… so be it.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d have a not-terribly-dissimilar answer if the person who had been fired wrote in. But not for this OP, who has different circumstances.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I am unclear if this expected work is paid or not. If the company is asking the former employee to become a contractor negotiate a rate. Negotiate it hard. Even if you would rather not do this at all, there comes a point where the money is so extravagant as to be its own revenge. If they are not willing to pay the required rate, then there you go. If, on the other hand, they expect you to work for free, then block their calls.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Ah, yes. “I’d be happy to help you. My rate is $(enter exorbitant amount).” And if they agree, you get a sweet deal.

        Unless they are so horrible they couldn’t pay you enough to do anything more for them.

      2. SweetestCin*

        And make sure its both truly exorbitant and something you can live with if they’re desperate enough to call you on it.

        For a bit there, I earned about $100 for a fifteen minute update run on some software because nobody at CrappyJob knew how to do it, and since I could only come in after my regular job, nobody was there to learn how to do it, either. Took six months of it for it to dawn on CrappyBoss.

    3. Construction Safety*

      The only mitigating thing I could think of was that if the OP used “fired” instead of “laid off” (quite a common occurrence) and that the former workers are being paid without the OP’s knowledge. Otherwise, WTaF??

    4. soon to be former fed really*

      I will never understand working where you don’t work anymore. What’s wrong with the word no? I would just ignore any and all such requests, but in 40 years of working with many different employers, I’ve never been asked to do such an unreasonable thing.

    5. Quill*

      I was ticked when the job that fired me called me two weeks later to ask me where I’d left a piece of lab equipment (which I’d spent several hours the week before I was fired getting a refund for because it had been shipped with a battery in it, which subsequently exploded and fried the whole thing.)

    6. Phony Genius*

      Employer: “Since we already fired you, if you don’t do this extra work now, then you’ll be super-fired!”

    7. Database Developer Dude*

      If a company fires a person, and then expects the person to help with work, I would seriously doubt the justification for the firing in the first place. Anyone judging the fired individual for then not being civil to the former employer when help is requested is being a jerk.

      1. Professor Space Cadet*

        I’ve seen this happen in a dysfunctional organizations where mid-level managers are given too much authority over the personnel process. Years ago, my brother (then a college student) was fired from a crappy service industry job with basically no justification by an awful boss. His response was, “well, okay then” and found another job within a week. A different manager at the old job called him back about six weeks later, desperately wanting him to cover a month-long special project. That manager was completely flabbergasted when his response was “I already found another job, and by the way, I’m not interested in working for the company again after the things that Old Boss said in my termination meeting.” It’s totally bizarre to me, but apparently this was a common thing in that industry.

    8. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

      This was so mind boggling to me. how can they even enforce that? Give you bad references? Block you from getting employment elsewhere?

  11. Dan*


    AAM’s language for getting off of a work-divergent zoom meeting might be a little terse, but when it gets to that point, a simple “is there anything else you need from me today? If not, I need to run” should suffice, and work rather regularly.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Yep. I mentioned this in the thread on cringeworthy/hilarious video conference calls yesterday. I ran my first board meeting. We did pretty good until the end. Then everyone wanted to explore the video conference features. I kept cutting in with “okay then, I’ll set up the board meeting for next month and send out the notice. Good night.” Took a couple of tries, but they eventually got the hint. I did good too. Our normally 1+ board meeting came in under 45 minutes.

  12. Dan*


    How is it that your people still have access to workplace communications systems? Cut that access off and you’ve likely solved your problem.

  13. m*

    I’d bet my bottom dollar that LW #2 works at a nonprofit, I had a similar experience with being expected to remain a part of the community even after I was cut due to falling behind after a life-threatening illness

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah it sounded like an NPO to me also.

      I am not sure why OP is interested in preventing them from even asking. I’d go with Alison’s advice and just wait to see if they ask then without explanation say, “I am sorry. I won’t be able to do that.”
      If they ask a second time, “I am sorry. I won’t be able to do that. Please stop contacting me. I am not available.”

      I think that probably most of the people who went back were vulnerable to feeling a tug at the ol’ heart strings. You can also screen calls and delete emails without reading, OP. If they try to use a work friend to drag you back, then say, “Friend, you know I am not able to go back now. I hope you understand when I ask you not to call me again to ask this question.”

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        > I am not sure why OP is interested in preventing them from even asking.

        Some people are really bad at saying “no” and they know it. So they try to preemptively avoid the issue, which just leads to getting all twisted up.

        1. Nanani*

          And some people are really bad at -hearing- no.
          If this workplace is used to being able to strongarm people (maybe they like to hire fresh out of college like mouth-taping boss for this reason?) then polite deflections will likely be ignored.

  14. Princesa Zelda*

    #1 brings up a related question I’ve wondered about for a while: if someone has two jobs, and they use PTO at one job on a given day but not at the other, is that… okay? I’ve had instances where I called off my day job but by evening I felt better so I did my night job as normal for example. Would it be okay to use PTO to cover more shifts at another job? Say, if someone scheduled a week off over Thanksgiving and used that time to work Black Friday? I’ve always just played Schedule Shuffle to do these kinds of things, but I’ve also never had a job with more than 5 sick days for PTO.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I honestly can’t imagine an employer being okay with that.

      As a manager, I’ve had staff working multiple jobs. And yes, there have been times when I’ve rearranged the schedule so an employee could fulfill an obligation at their other job, as long as doing so wouldn’t put too much strain and pressure on the rest of my staff. But if I were to find out that instead of asking me to shift their schedule, an employee called in sick to work at a different job, that’s not something I’d feel okay with.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        That’s my feeling. I very much doubt this was a pre-existing second job. Some pharmacies are paying VERY well right now for people to make deliveries, but without benefits, kinda like an Uber or Lyft service. You stay home til you get the call to pick up the order, make the delivery, and go home. Also, some of these are volunteer services, so she might not even be getting paid.

        Probable senario:

        She lies to her first company to get the sick leave, then spends most of her day relaxing unless she gets a call to make the delivery. She has not actually been exposed to COVID, she just wanted the paid sick leave and the deliveries give her a chance to get out of the house and make some extra money on the side, if it is paid.

        Reprehensible on multiple levels. If she lied about having COVID, she’s panicking people at work. If she does have it, she’s a Typhoid Mary. She’s getting an income to STAY HOME. That’s where her butt should be, either way.

      2. Diamond*

        I read it as using PTO but working at another job, not calling in sick and working another job. I don’t see what’s wrong with the former, unless there are burnout concerns because you’re not resting on your PTO.

        1. valentine*

          I don’t see what’s wrong with the former
          It’s still paying you to work elsewhere.

          1. Tallulah in the Sky*

            Nope, it’s paying you a day off because it’s in your contract/you’ve earned it/… What you do with PTO is none of your employer’s business.

            1. Avasarala*

              If it’s earned on false pretenses though?

              Didn’t we just have a letter about a worker who got paternity leave and even leave donated by his coworkers, and it turned out he wasn’t a father at all?

                1. Tallulah in the Sky*

                  Yes, of course if you’re lying to get your day off, that’s not ok :-) I read it as “What if I take one PTO day to do some other work”, that’s where I don’t see the issue. Whether you’re on vacation, participating in a video game tournament, doing a concert,… if it’s part of you’re allowed PTO that you get regardless of circumstances, then I don’t see the issue.

                  Same as if you were sick in the morning, but better by the evening, well then you didn’t lie to your employer either, I don’t see the issue. On the other hand, if you decided to call in sick at a time where you knew it would cause problems, because you wanted to sleep in and be rested for your night job… I don’t think your company can prove that, so not sure if you would be fired, but that’s certainly not an ethical thing to do !

                2. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  No more nesting, but I agree with Tallulah here. In fact, I’ve done this, to a certain extent– at one point I had a full-time job but was still working weekend shifts at a retail job. They did inventory right around Christmas. My full-time office was closed for the week, I was fully paid, yet I took a couple of inventory shifts at my retail job and got paid for those too. I can’t imagine either employer having a problem with that.

          2. Mookie*

            Barring a contract, people are definitely allowed to have other jobs and do not need their primary employer’s assent to work off-shift and any time they like during normal PTO. The entity paying them to work elsewhere is, of course, the elsewhere. There is nothing sneaky or unethical about having a second job, casual or otherwise, so long as the hours aren’t overlapping (and other very rare exceptions), and no one is “mooching” by having additional, unrelated income.

        2. Tallulah in the Sky*

          Same. If it’s time off you’re owed, what does it matter to an employer whether you take it for a vacation, staying at home, going to the doctor, or work another job ? It’s time off you’re owed / you’ve earned, you get to use it as you see fit.

          This is totally different from getting extra paid time off for a medical issue and still working on the side (unless your abilities for one job and the other are completely different, for example you can’t do any manual labor because of a broken leg, but are able to translate documents lying in bed with a computer).

          1. doreen*

            I will agree that in most cases it doesn’t matter to the employer how you use the time – but I do think there are exceptions. For example, I know of someone who called in sick and used sick leave to be a poll worker on Election Day. She called in sick because her request for some other sort of time off was denied for coverage reasons -the maximum number of her co-workers had been approved for time off to work as poll workers. Only the one who claimed to be sick had any trouble – because she used sick leave and she had already been denied the time off.

            1. James*

              That’s not an issue of how to use PTO; that’s an issue of lying to the company, and bad policies. If she’d been approved for PTO the employer wouldn’t have any justification in saying “You worked the election? That’s fraud!” It’s the fact that she called in sick to circumvent the company policy that’s the problem here.

            2. Blueberry*

              This is precisely why I decided not to call out sick to be a poll worker on Super Tuesday. I would have been lying to my employer. But if I had managed to arrange for a PTO day that day (and the fact that I forgot to is on me) my employer would have had no standing to object.

      3. TechWorker*

        Haha we obviously have different definitions of ‘PTO’ because I can’t imagine an employer needing to care…

        If you have specifically sick leave then yeah, I can imagine the employer wouldn’t be best pleased (but also, without much of a leg to stand on, if you have a splitting headache at lunchtime but feel well enough to work by 8pm, well, that’s not exactly impossible). If you have shared sick leave and PTO I’d say it’s precisely none of their business what you do with your paid time off… calling in sick to work another shift? Dodgy. Calling in sick from one shift but not from a subsequent one with a different employer? That’s no different to waking up feeling awful but coming in at lunch after another few hours sleep. People don’t get sick in neat day increments. *shrugs*

      4. Lucette Kensack*

        Calling in sick (i.e. taking unplanned PTO) to work a second job would be a problem. But folks can use their planned vacation time however they want.

      5. Jennifer*

        But what if the person felt unwell in the morning but better by the evening? How is that deceptive? There have been days when I’ve woken up in terrible pain, but after rest and medicine, felt 100% by the afternoon.

    2. Dan*

      I never advocate for committing fraud or anything like that, but I also advocate for “don’t tell your employer any more than you need to.” If your absence is complying with PTO rules (like notice or whatever) if you’re out making money on a day off, it’s simply not your employer’s business.

      Side note: One thing I liked about California was that overtime was paid out (state law) after 40 *paid* hours in a week, not 40 *worked* hours. So you could take a PTO day on your regular shift, and pick up an extra shift on your day off, and that pick-up shift would get paid at time-and-a-half.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Uh, that’s not true.
        Overtime is based on 40 hours worked, not paid, even in CA.

        From the CA DLSE Q&A:
        Q. Last week I worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, eight hours each day. I was out ill all day Friday. For the workweek I was paid 48 hours at my regular hourly rate. Am I entitled to eight hours of overtime pay?

        A. No, you are not entitled to any overtime pay. Overtime is calculated based on hours actually worked, and you worked only 40 hours during the workweek. Another example of where you get paid your regular wages but the time is not counted towards overtime is if you get paid for a holiday but do not work that day. In such a case, the time upon which the holiday pay is based does not count as hours worked for purposes of determining overtime because no work was performed.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      If it’s PTO that you’ve earned normally, I see no issue. You earned PTO, you can use it to chill at home, take a vacation, get a haircut, do chores, whatever.

      The problem here, of course, the employee is taking advantage of a special kind of leave for which she obtained by lying about being exposed. At least I’m hoping she’s actually a liar and wage thief versus delivering medication after knowing she was exposed to someone with a case of COVID-19.

    4. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

      Under normal circumstances I dont’ see an issue with it. PTO is PTO – it’s my time that I’ve earned and I’m free to use it to do whatever I see fit.

    5. Koala dreams*

      If it’s not specified what the paid time off is to be used for, it should be fine to use it for whatever. Even if you have sick leave as opposed to general paid time off, there are going to be many illnesses that prevent you from doing one job but not another. For example, you could do computer work but not drive, or you could work in a warehouse but not do callcenter work.

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think it depends on what type of PTO. If it’s vacation r personal time the employer can’t tell you how you spend your vacation. But I could see an issue if you used sick time.

  15. StaceyIzMe*

    Regarding OP1- the premise that someone with paid leave that is undertaken to self quarantine would break it in order to deliver medication to sick people is bizarre! I know that you looked at your camera, but it’s SO bizarre that I almost wonder if you have found a doppelganger for your coworker? Because there’s no real benefit to taking leave (even deceptively) and using it to deliver medications. That’s not exactly a well paying position. Unless she’s doing something truly nefarious like stealing medications to resell, what’s the motive here? It’s true that the world is a very strange place, but I’d want corroborating (irrefutable) evidence before bringing it to my employers. If indeed it is true, how exceptionally strange! Please update if possible!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      It’s really not that bizarre, there are already multiple people defending it in this post alone.

      There are still people out there who think this is all a grand conspiracy. There are people out there who have come out as full fledged eugenicists saying we should let the old and vulnerable die for the sake of the economy. There are still idiots out there going ‘oh but social distancing/lockdown means I can still do ____, right?’

      I’d love for everyone to be taking this seriously but unfortunately…it’s not guaranteed.

      1. valentine*

        OP1 does not need evidence superior to court requirements to speak up. Do you think it was a coincidence that Lisa left as soon as she saw OP1?

        1. TechWorker*

          Except that delivery drivers are leaving quickly as soon as they see, well, anyone, to avoid coming into social contact. So maybe OP is super duper sure it was her, and fair, but I don’t think the fact they left quickly is at all surprising given the current circumstances.

          I ordered takeout a week ago and it was left on the door step – there were a few bits so I thought the guy was gone, but he was still putting something down when I opened the door, he fully jumped backwards away from me and half ran back to his car… These are weird times!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Weirdly, I had a delivery guy yesterday get TICKED when I smiled, thumbs-up’ed and pointed at the helpfully labeled “deliveries here please, stay safe!” box on my porch through the front door window instead of opening the door to take it from him. Like, I opened the door when he was back down the driveway and called “thank you!” and I’m pretty sure he muttered expletives at me.

    2. PollyQ*

      The motive is “make some more money,” and as people are accurately pointing out, her household may need. IMO, that in no way excuses what she’s doing, but aside from being selfish, it’s not irrational.

      1. MayLou*

        But she’s getting paid her full salary from her main job. You could argue that she needs to duck out of her main job and drive shifts for Uber while she’s meant to be working, using this logic. And that’s leaving aside the public health issue.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yeah there could be reasons why she legitimately needs the extra money. Maybe her spouse was laid off and it’s taking forever for his benefits to come through, who knows? I do think it’s selfish but I don’t think she’s doing it for the joy of delivering packages – or to steal medication (!)

    3. doreen*

      I don’t think Lisa is taking her own leave – it seems this time will be not deducted from her PTO. There are employers who are paying people to stay home in isolation/quarantine without using any of their own leave – the non-essential staff at my government agency have been home with pay and no leave deductions since March 15 even if they weren’t exposed. Essential staff who must isolate or quarantine due to exposure also don’t charge their leave bank. So this time off wouldn’t affect their ability to take a vacation later this year and there would financial benefit from making deliveries.

    4. Massmatt*

      “Because there’s no real benefit to taking leave (even deceptively) and using it to deliver medications. That’s not exactly a well paying position….”

      What a snobby comment. By your logic, no one would deliver medication, or work other jobs that are not “well paying”. There are people that need money and do not have great jobs that pay well; they still need to work to pay their bills.

      Do you think people are waiting tables, washing dishes, delivering food, stocking shelves, pumping gas, cleaning houses etc for… fun? Being able to pay their bills is very much a “real benefit”.

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        The context here though is that the person in question has a job, perhaps even one with good compensation since she appears not to be at the first rung or two of the ladder based on OP’s description of her. Risking a full-time job in order to make money delivering medications seems really unreasonable to me. I don’t think that makes my comment snobby. (But your mileage may vary, obviously.)

  16. Mx*

    2# This company is totally out of line but what I don’t understand is why former employees comply to this request once they are gone ? Six months ????
    It’s not even legal to have people working for free so the company exposes itself to possible problems with the law.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m truly baffled by that. How charming and compelling is this company that people feel like they have to answer their (metaphorical, might be via email or messenger pigeon) call continuously for half a year and more?

    2. Batgirl*

      I’m assuming it’s a charity or non profit and they are asking people to volunteer. I can’t fathom a phrasing that would ask people to do profitable work without pay.

    3. Jdc*

      Ya I think people fail to remember no is an option. Maybe I’m just a meanie but I’d been ignoring the calls and emails after not too long.

    4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yeah, that’s strange. I don’t know why some people have trouble saying no when it’s perfectly appropriate to do so.

  17. Random IT person*

    OP #6 – thanks for this story.
    We need all the positives we can get these days – and i found myself unexpectedly happy after reading your news.

    I am at work (from home) so far no danger to my position – but worried for colleagues etc.
    So happy exceptions – they are very welcomed.

  18. Uldi*

    LW #2

    You could also say, “My hourly freelance rate is [outrageous amount], half of which I’ll need upfront.” This, of course, depends on if you believe they would be unwilling to contract you as a freelancer.

    1. James*

      My father did that. He retired, then about 8 months later the company contacted him about coming in. He stated his hourly rate–I forget what, but it was something totally absurd, along with stipulations about taxes and indemnity from any liability (his product was a bid, NOT winning the contract). The contract was written up before lunch that day. So he did the work as an independent contractor. Skinned them alive, but they thought it was worth the price.

  19. So Not The Boss Of Me*

    IMHO, LW1 has an obligation to tell the pharmacy. Someone who is off work on quarantine should definitely not be doing their delivery! Please, please report this to the pharmacy. If the pharmacy thinks it’s okay to have her continue, please call the health department. This is outrageous.

    1. Jennifer*

      I wonder if she works for instacart or some other service like that, and not directly for the pharmacy. From what I’m hearing about instacart, I don’t know if they’d take action.

  20. Batgirl*

    It’s like LW2 is dating one of those guys who expect you to be forever available after the break up; I call it ‘little black book’ mode. I’m sure the same thought process is in effect too: thinking of people as minions, rather than as people with their own goals.
    The only effective strategy I’ve ever seen for this is blocking and contact detail changes.

  21. pcake*

    LW#1 – perhaps you could contact your local health department. If this woman was exposed, she could be endangering many.

  22. James*

    LW#1: Some food for thought: South Korea had the virus mostly contained until one person violated isolation protocols. Many, perhaps most, of the current cases in that country are traceable to that one person. There are other cases where fairly small gatherings–funerals, sewing circles, and the like–caused massive outbreaks of the virus.

    What Lisa is doing–if she’s actually or potentially infected–is far, far worse than driving drunk. HUNDREDS of people could be exposed by her actions. That’s not hyperbole, that’s based on what’s already happened in this pandemic. She’s playing dice with people’s lives. And if you keep quiet, you are too.

  23. Evergreen*

    LW #1 I think you should start by talking to Lisa herself if that’s at all possible: partly to confirm whether it was actually her, but partly because it’s likely to be more effective in getting her to rethink the seriousness of her actions.

    But I think whether & how to report Lisa comes down to what you’re hoping to achieve. If you feel a sense of loyalty to your company or sense that they should know that Lisa is taking paid leave she isn’t entitled to, then do report it. I personally wouldn’t report to my office that my coworker was taking sick leave and still working her second job, that’s not really my business.

    However, if you’re worried about the potential viral transmission, then it would be better to report this to the pharmacy directly and to your state ministry of health (or whoever the relevant government body is who are responsible for enforcing the self-isolation measures: in my country that’s no one, but the pharmacy certainly should be concerned).

    The main thing is though that I actually don’t think it’s your employer’s business to enforce the lockdown – either that’s a legal issue and the authorities should deal with it without your employer getting involved, or it’s a moral issue for Lisa to resolve, or it’s a practical issue for the pharmacy to control, but I don’t know that getting your employer involved is a reasonable first step.

    1. pcake*

      I wouldn’t talk to Lisa herself. The health department can easily check if she’s the one working at the pharmacy, and if she is and might have been exposed, there’s no point in giving her time to get her lies in order. I wouldn’t involve the employer since they may take action to protect their company but not the general population. I *might* mention it in confidence to a manager I trusted (if any) unofficially, and let her/him decide whether to go further.

    2. Batgirl*

      I don’t know why people insist on confronting people who are lying and mid-cover up just to give them a say when they have solid evidence. That way you are informing the one person who is already in the know and giving them a jump on covering their tracks or slandering you first. It also builds in a really fatal delay stage.

      The company can ascertain whether or not it is really Lisa by using the video footage and speaking to her. So can the pharmacy and health authorities. OP should be informing anyone with the power to halt this post haste and all three parties have a different piece of the puzzle here. It’s one thing to debate whose responsibility something is when it’s not a life or death situation but in a national emergency it is everyone’s responsibility to keep everyone safe.

      1. Maya Elena*

        To be fair, there are sometimes eerily similar-looking people and the wrong call is made.
        It’s nbd when you mistake someone for a celebrity, but there was a high profile case decades ago where a country’s hitmen shot the wrong person. :/

        1. Batgirl*

          Sure, it’s possible. But I mean, the slim chance of a dopppleganger doesn’t really change the plan though does it? It’s far more appropriate for the company to investigate the truth of this than the OP. What is asking Lisa going to achieve? Of course she’s going to say it wasn’t her, and OP is in no position to look further than her word.

        2. Temperance*

          I mean, sure, but it’s frankly ridiculous to assume that this couldn’t POSSIBLY be Lisa, and has to be some sort of lookalike. Lisa’s reaction when she saw LW#1 seals that for me.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I would go to the health authorities and *only* the health authorities. I would identify for them the person I believed she was, the pharmacy she was working for *and the prescription she was to deliver to me* – that should make id’ing her at the pharmacy easier and she seemed to recognize the OP anyway, the employer for which she was out on COVID leave.

        Because that way, the folks with the most authority to shut it down (and the most important authority on the moral/ethical/safety issue that is central) will be able to confirm details and take what action they deem appropriate, without her finding out from someone else sooner and trying to cover her tracks. Including informing the pharmacy (almost certainly) and her other employer (maybe, maybe not) if appropriate.

        If her potential exposure really happened, that is she’s not lying to get leave from the company, they will also be able to get contact tracing started sooner if they hear about it sooner.

    3. Jennifer*

      Yeah, my main concern is the public health issue, not protecting the company. If she took normal sick leave and was driving for Uber during her time off, I’d think that was messed up but I wouldn’t bother reporting it. If she’s potentially spreading a dangerous virus, it’s a public health issue.

    4. Observer*

      No, do NOT talk to Lisa.

      Also, this most definitely is the business of the employer (as well as her other employer and the local health authorities.)

      For one thing, they are paying her SPECIFICALLY to quarantine, and she’s not. Also, She’s clearly not taking appropriate precautions which makes her a risk to everyone else.

  24. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    To OP#2: IMO the best invention in recent memory is the block number feature. I have more blocked numbers than stored numbers at this point (exes, political solicitors, former coworkers, bill collectors, etc etc etc) . If ever there was a time to block numbers its now. You may have to screen calls if they have never called you before, and it may be a tad passive aggressive but that’s how I would solve it so I don’t even have to say no.

    And if for some reason you can’t block until you get all your final pay, then for sure screen your calls.

  25. Roscoe*

    #4. while I get the legalities of this, as someone in sales, I understand their point of view. Work doesn’t stop for everyone, and people are still buying things. If was not getting paid, but also couldn’t even try to maintain a relationship with clients so once I came back, I still had them. I wonder if it would be ok to stay in touch on unofficial work channels, like LinkedIn.

  26. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #3: Ugh- people like Kate are so annoying. Don’t give her the attention she is obviously seeking. And you’re probably not alone – I’ll bet half your coworkers are thinking the same thing when she sends those little emails and hijacks meetings. If you don’t engage when she does this, it will make you look good while she continues to make herself look foolish. I also like Alison’s suggestion of excusing yourself from the meeting (when appropriate) when she goes off on a self-centered tangent. It’s kind of like saying “that’s all” and makes her insignificant.

  27. Essess*

    Most areas have a hotline to report violations of quarantine. You should call that and let them know that a person who is quarantined for COVID exposure is out doing deliveries.

    1. Quill*

      Yeah, better idea than contacting your job. Because your job couldn’t stop her delivering, which is the main problem!

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Making her stop the deliveries is obviously the main problem. There’s also the issue that her company is paying her to stay at home. I doubt they’d be happy to learn that she was going out regardless.

  28. agnes*

    LW #1 I would call the pharmacy and let them know that you saw someone delivering your medication that you know is supposed to be in quarantine due to an exposure. I might also call the health department.

    I think it’s your call about whether you inform your place of business.

  29. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Things like #1 make my head explode. The number of people not taking this seriously is mind boggling. I’m always one for keeping things to myself at work unless it’s affecting my ability to get my work done, BUT this is a VERY big deal. If she’s lying about exposure, it’s fraud and she should be fired immediately. If she’s not lying about exposure, she’s risking giving the virus to countless numbers of people. A friend just posted about another friend’s grandfather passing away yesterday from the virus and he NEVER LEFT HIS HOUSE. I would contact HR and the pharmacy immediately.

  30. LGC*

    Before I start: get it LW6! (Also Alison, thank you for posting the extra good news letters!)

    So, with #1…I’m less concerned with reporting this to the company than I am with reporting this to the local public health department. I assume that she’s not in a place (like…me) where potentially everyone has been exposed to the coronavirus already, so perhaps the local health department is aware of the possible exposure.

    And yes, I’m advocating “snitching” to the authorities. You don’t want to be New York or New Jersey.

    #2 – if you need to be performatively apologetic, you have my permission. Say that you’ll be very busy with onboarding (even if it’s onboarding the entirety of Tiger King into your eyeballs) or something.

    #4 – I appreciate that your problem kind of mirrors LW2’s. But…what can your company do to help maintain those vendor relationships? That’s the main concern the furloughed employees have – it’s not that they want to work, it’s that they don’t want to lose their vendors! Whatever you can do to help mitigate that risk – perhaps by putting forward a plan for the company to keep in contact – would help, I think. But yeah, you HAVE to make a clean break for the time being.

  31. Annoyingly Earnest Coworker*

    #3 – I am in almost an exact same situation. I have a coworker who consistently shares details that aren’t important to anyone but her, always hits reply-all to every email, often to just say “Thanks” and clutter everyone’s inbox, does so much make-work nonsense for herself and asks others to participate in it (I’ve received many an email with “so I made a new spreadsheet for the team…”) and just generally wastes everyone’s time whenever she can. We share a supervisor who I like a lot, but is extremely conflict averse, and while he and I have complained about this co-worker together, and he’s seen her say inappropriate things that have gotten on the nerves of the other members of the team, he never comments on them. Her actions could easily be taken as someone who is trying to be power hungry, but it’s all just completely oblivious earnestness.

    I don’t really know what to do about this co-worker either, since I’m not her supervisor and our supervisor sees what she’s doing as annoying also but has no interest in stopping it, but my approach is just to find it funny rather than irritating. A spectacle to be observed. I see her as both extremely predictable and extremely unpredictable. I can always count on her, in every interaction, to say the most ridiculous and inappropriate and useless thing, but what exactly that thing will be is a surprise every time as it’s never something I could have come up with on my own.

    1. Myrin*

      I actually think this is a very helpful tactic since OP isn’t likely to be able to change anything but her own reactions anyway, what with her boss just flopping around uselessly. It’s probably not going to be easy when you’re already at the point where you feel like strangling someone as soon as you read their name but I’m sure with some deliberate re-wiring, it can be done. I also love the relentless positivity in this: “I can always count on her, in every interaction, to say the most ridiculous and inappropriate and useless thing” – I had a good laugh at that!

      1. Annon#6*

        OP here. EXACTLY! She is so oblivious and does not see herself the way others see her. I do make bets with myself about what ridiculous things she will say next. It is totally my boss’ call but it never gets made…. Desperately trying to rewire

        And as Alison said “But I suspect you mostly want to do this because you’re annoyed with her and it feels good to say something.” So true!!!!

        Thank for letting me know I am NOT the only one dealing with this!

        1. Cats and dogs*

          These types of emails can end up taking up a lot of time. If she does not send you important emails in addition to these useless ones, I suggest waiting to quickly review them until you have time. Like if work is slow or you are taking a break and can scan a few emails to delete. Otherwise if you do say something you can say it in a very nice manner so if she forwards it around there cannot be repercussions for you. Good luck!

  32. Quill*

    Brava, OP6!

    OP1: in the interest of public health, your post-exposure coworker should not be handling packages, period. ESPECIALLY given that she’s delivering from pharmacies! You’re going to have to say something.

    OP3: At what BEC level were you with Katie before you transitioned to remote work? Is this a new behavior or not? Because on a personal level, it sounds like the two of you may just have conflicting stress responses: Katie being ‘helpful’ by increasing contact, and you not having the bandwidth to bother. If Katie was unable to buy a hint before this I don’t think “please leave me off future emails about the census deadlines” is going to decrease her behavior, but if she’s stress managing by trying to become an information hub, a quiet, personal conversation about how much that’s stressing you and potentially other people out may clear it up.

    1. LGC*

      It might also be an adjustment in levels of contact. I’m more annoyed with my coworker’s quirks because I’m forced to work more closely with her now. (And she’s probably annoyed with me! I’m a pretty stereotypical AAMer where I consider myself relatively “no-nonsense.” She is…not that as much and tends to go into very long explanations about whatever issue is going on.)

      We got along mostly fine before because we were working on different projects mostly, but nowadays it’s just something comes up and she gives this longwinded explanation and I actually have had to cut her off mid-way sometimes.

      (She also happens to be a reply-all fanatic and an email thanker. I’m the polar opposite.)

  33. !*

    OP #2 I am not understanding this at all, the company can *expect* all they want, but doesn’t the employee who no longer works for the company have the control NOT to do the work? Were these employees paid for their work, or not? What am I missing?

    No company can mandate an employee do work for them after they are no longer an employee (in any sense of the word), can they?

    1. Gilmore67*

      Yes, I am not understanding that either.

      If asked to do actual work ( not just a quick question you can answer over the phone ) it is not confrontational to simply, politely say….. ” I am not longer employed with you” . You don’t have to be mean, rude or anything at all. Just matter of fact.

      No one should have to have an excuse as to why they can’t help the ex-company other than, I don’ work for you anymore.

    2. TheBeetsMotel*

      Maybe I just have an easier time saying no than some people, but I’m really not seeing the issue here. MAYBE you owe them one clear time of saying “As I no longer work here, I am no longer available for work”. But then that’s it. You never reply to any calls or messages ever again. Boom. Done.

  34. Carley*

    Another job search success story – I was laid off about 4 weeks ago (by coincidence, not
    Covid related), started looking for a job seriously about 3 weeks ago (I was very burnt out . . .), got a job that will give me a pay raise and a significant title raise, and start on Monday.

    I interviewed via Zoom, and it was funny to see the interviewers in more casual clothes and in their basements etc. The job will be in another city than where I am right now but I obviously cannot move there anytime soon (I am in a very severe area) so I’m going to be remote for now. They’re shipping me a work laptop.

    I’m a little nervous about starting a new job remotely, so Monday should be interesting.

    1. Blueberry*

      All good luck and ease of working for Monday and ongoing, and congratulations! Thank you for sharing your happiness with us. :)

  35. Jennifer*

    #1 Obviously what this coworker is doing is terrible because she is getting paid by her company so there’s no need for her to make extra money. However, I think a lot of people who aren’t so fortunate are still working despite being exposed to COVID-19 or while they have mild symptoms because it takes forever to apply for benefits through the federal government and they need money coming in in the meantime. We really are going to have to start treating everyone like they have it, especially grocery store workers and delivery people, and proceed accordingly.

    1. LGC*

      True, but…the coworker is getting paid in this case! I think that’s the major issue here – the coworker is possibly getting extra pay (possibly – she could have done deliveries before and LW1 didn’t know) and is definitely working a job where she might come in contact with vulnerable persons.

      I can’t speculate on Lisa’s finances, but she has not lost all of her pay here.

      1. Jennifer*

        I totally agree with you! I think I stated that in the comment. She’s getting paid so it’s a moot point. Even if her spouse was laid off or something, she has more money coming in right now than a lot of people. I was just making the point that this is bigger than Lisa. There have been reports all over the country about things like this happening at big box stores like Costco and in Amazon warehouses. Instacart delivery people aren’t getting the protective gear they need, etc. Many of the people we have to rely on to feed us and bring us other needed supplies have potentially been exposed.

        1. LGC*

          I did kind of overlook that you made that distinction – sorry about that.

          But…also, I think there’s a huge difference between potentially being exposed because you’re a grocery store clerk or Instacart shopper and what Lisa did. Your Doordash delivery person might (or even is likely to) have been exposed. Lisa has been exposed, and LW1 knows this.

  36. Special Agent Michael Scarn*

    OMG at #2, my company does the same thing! They pressure everyone who quits to do contract work for them. One of my former co-workers did that for about a month. When she told my boss she was done, because, you know, she’d QUIT and gotten a new job, he was legitimately shocked and had no back-up plan — no one to take over her workload. It was insane.

    1. WellRed*

      Well, it’s insane to us, obviously, but it seems to be working for these companies. If former employees would just say no, they’d have to figure something else out.

  37. Hiring Mgr*

    Does it even matter at all that Lisa’s doing this for a second job? If OP just saw Lisa out at the grocery store or jogging in the street, wouldn’t the same advice apply?

    1. WellRed*

      Would it? I’m not sure. Grocery delivery isn’t available in many places and even evil Lisa needs to eat.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        That probably depends on the nature of her quarantine, but I’m in Europe and it’s illegal to leave the house if you’ve been ordered to self-isolate. There are resources for such people – at least here – you can call a hotline and a volunteer will bring groceries to your doorstep.
        Also: grocery delivery, is grossly expanding. In my country, you can now get dry goods delivered anywhere the next day, as there’s suddenly a lot of available vehicles and manpower. Now, I understand the US is less densely populated, but it’s pure fan fiction that Lisa lives so far away from civilisation that there’s literally no one who could help but also lives in an area where pharmacy delivery is a thing.

      2. merope*

        Quarantine is quarantine. You don’t go out. If you don’t have delivery, you find a friend or other service to bring the food to you. If you need to be outside, open a window.

        You might be thinking of voluntary self-isolation, where you minimize your exposure by remaining home as much as possible.

    2. Oryx*

      Grocery store is a necessity. And many leaders/governors encourage people to go outside for exercise, as long as they follow any distancing guidelines.

      Delivering items, particularly from a pharmacy where she is, presumably, coming into contact with people who might already be sick or in a high-risk group, is an entirely different situation. It’s not necessarily the fact that she’s doing it for a second job — it’s what that second job is. She is supposed to be home under self-quarantine, not running about in the community.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Going jogging or to the grocery store is still allowed for the general population in most places. However, Lisa is under individual quarantine because she’s been exposed: she can’t go to the grocery store!

        1. Oryx*

          Sorry, yes, you are of course correct. Which makes it even more illogical that the grocery shopping is somehow comparable to someone going out under quarantine to work a delivery job.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Jogging, maybe not–the standard “self-isolation” advice in Massachusetts is that it’s okay to go outside for exercise as long as you’re careful to maintain that six-foot distance from other people. (It’s different if you’re actually sick/have symptoms of the coronavirus.)

      Grocery shopping, I suspect she shouldn’t be doing if at all possible. I’m doing my best to stay out of stores for fourteen days because I had mild cold symptoms last weekend, even though I can’t identify a possible exposure. (Yes, I have the privilege of being able to afford that, and storage space for food sufficient that I might get bored, but won’t go hungry, if I have to live entirely off what’s already in the cabinets.) But there’s a real difference between a single carefully planned grocery trip to get two weeks’ supplies before self-isolating, and this blatant “I might be sick, pay me to avoid contact with other people, and I’m going to be delivering medicine to people who can’t or shouldn’t go out.”

      1. Dahlia*

        Self-isolation and quarantine are not the same thing. Quarantine means you don’t go out, period.

    4. Asenath*

      Whether it would matter if she was on a second job or at the grocery store would depend on local law – but in my part of Canada, and I think the rest of the country, if she’s in isolation because she was exposed to the virus, as stated, she would NOT be allowed out at all. There are circumstances in which this rule would apply even if she hadn’t been exposed – for example, if she’d just gotten off an inter-provincial or international flight, and it would most definitely apply if she knew she was exposed. The minute you find out you are exposed, you go straight home, no stopping at a grocery store or convenience store on the way, and if you need food or other supplies, you have to get someone to buy it for you and drop it at your door. That person could be a friend or relative, or someone with one of the delivery services, which have been increasing in number. Members of the general population – not exposed or ill and not recent travelers – can go to the grocery store or walk around outdoors, as long as they don’t go too close to another human being. And even grocery store visits for the unexposed (or those who don’t know they’ve been exposed) are supposed to be as few in number and as short as possible; ditto for using public transportation. Taking a delivery job which involves dealing with lots of members of the public when you KNOW you have been exposed is so far outside the rules that my mind boggles. And if her company paid for her to go into quarantine because of her exposure to the virus, the fact that she’d not doing anything of the kind is really the company’s business, as well as that of the public health authorities, the police, and part-time employer.

  38. Heidi*

    Hi LW2: Congratulations on leaving your toxic job. If they ask you to work after you’re gone, you can tell them that you’ll consider it when they start paying the employee that was fired and the guy that’s working on their taxes. Sheesh, some people have a lot of nerve.

  39. Wandering*

    Re #1, on the slim chance that it wasn’t Lisa, please allow for that if/when you choose to report to anyone. I say this as a person who has been mistaken for someone else frequently – for a couple years it was happening weekly. And it can take an edge off the reporting; you thought you saw this, rather than *she did this!*

    Also, the pharmacy would probably be happy to tell you if they have their own delivery staff or which services/s they use if they hire that out.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      As someone who has had a doppelganger before, I agree with this!

      In college, there was another student who was my height, same color hair, and similar haircut, etc. We were mistaken for each other often and people would tell me they waved at me on campus and I ignored them. One week, a nasty rumor spread around the restaurant where I worked with a lot of other students. Someone pulled me aside one day and told me everyone was talking about how I slept with our coworker’s boyfriend – some people were defending me and others were gossiping. Turns out our coworker’s boyfriend had cheated on her with my doppelganger! Someone later saw them together at a restaurant and snapped a photo so my coworker could see it wasn’t me! She came and apologized to me personally for the mistaken identity and all the rumors.

      I really wasn’t angry with my poor coworker who had been cheated on. I was angry with the others who had taken that information and spread gossip and rumors around our workplace instead of asking me about it. And I was even angrier that any of them believed I would do something like that!

      If the OP thought well of Lisa and figured this is something she would NEVER do, then the OP shouldn’t have any hesitation to tell her boss and let them be the ones to either clear it up or discover the transgressions. There is a chance it’s not Lisa! And if that’s the case, then all will be well and maybe Lisa can have a good laugh about her sister or cousin or doppelganger making the deliveries.

  40. CW*

    #2 – I have quit toxic jobs before but none of them even considered expecting you to continue working for them. This is just unbelievable. My suggestion? On your last day, walk out the door and never look back. Ignore any phone calls or block their number. You are no longer an employee there and they need to leave you alone. This just reeks of toxic all over.

    #6 – Congrats and glad you had a happy ending! I hope your new job goes well!

  41. Bookworm*

    #6: Thanks for writing and sharing your good news with us!! I’m so glad it worked out.

  42. Ruffingit*

    2 – This is so incredibly weird. Who continues working for free after they leave? Especially if they were fired?? I don’t get it. But whatever, I’m glad the OP is not going to join that merry band of literal freelancers.

    1. Steveo*

      I believe it’s also illegal for the company – she could bring this up with them. “I’d hate for you to get in legal trouble for having people work without pay”.

      1. WellRed*

        If they are not employed by the company, they don’t need to be paid by the company.

        1. Steveo*

          If they are doing work for the company without pay, that’s illegal. Companies (for profit) can’t just have volunteers helping out.

          “Employers in the United States must pay employees for all hours worked and cannot force workers to labor without receiving minimum compensation set by federal or state law. An employer cannot sanction, discriminate against or fire an employee for not working without pay.”

    2. Carley*

      If they fired you but want you to keep working . . . they need you and shouldn’t have fired you. WTF is wrong with these people. Or they needed to fire you and find a (presumably better) replacement

  43. Slogmeister Extraordinaire*

    Regarding #3, Alison, I disagree. It does not take two seconds to scan an e-mail.
    1. It takes at least two seconds just to break your concentration and look at the subject line.
    2. Then, three-five seconds to weigh the risk of not examining the body of a message with an obviously inane subject line. It may actually contain pertinent work information, it may not – many people don’t use the subject line properly anymore. If the subject line is not inane, it may take longer or shorter, depending in your involvement.
    3. If you’re going to ignore or defer it, great! You’ve only wasted about seven seconds. Stop here. We won’t count how many seconds it requires you to pick up where you left off.
    4. If you’re going to read it, you have to take several seconds to look at the To: and Cc: lines to determine if this was a huge distribution or just a small one, and possibly who was included, and make a judgement call as to how closely you will follow the ensuing thread, if any.
    5. Take 15-30 seconds to read and digest the body of the e-mail for not only content, but implied content and possible over/under-reaction from other recipients that may actually affect work.
    6. Take several seconds to estimate any social/professional damage that may be caused by ignoring this e-mail and the ensuing thread, if any.
    7. If the damage is negligible or tolerable, great! You’ve wasted just under a minute! Again, we won’t count how many seconds it requires you to pick up where you left off.
    8. If the potential damage is intolerable, write a reply. This can take 1-5 minutes, sometimes more.
    9. Rinse/lather/repeat on every unique e-mail.

    Your mileage may vary, but e-mails are never two seconds unless you’re already completed this process. That’s why people like the OP talks about can be so frustrating. If the e-mail is pertinent, then the time is well spent, not wasted. But when it’s not, this waste can add up quickly.

    1. Yorick*

      This is beyond nitpicking. Maybe it’s 1 minute instead of 2 seconds, but it still doesn’t take a significant amount of time. Plus I’d argue that you can decide this message is irrelevant for you without many of these steps.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I think it depends entirely on the nature of your work. There are jobs like software development – and mine – where you need to be entirely focused on what you are doing and once your train of thought has been broken, it may take a full 15 minutes to get back into your previous state. I sometimes deactivate notifications when I’m on something urgent and can’t answer any messages with anything but “sorry can’t help you now”.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s the interruption that’s the problem, not the time it takes to read the e-mail. (And the reading time will depend on the length of the e-mail and your individual reading speed, so can be more than 2 seconds as well.)

      For that reason it makes sense to send an e-mail to tell the co-worker to take you off their e-mails. Five less interruptions a day could translate to more than half an hour of focused work extra.

      Another way to deal with it would be to disable the new e-mail pings, and decide on a few times a day when you are checking e-mail. If you only check e-mails at those times, you’ll have plenty of time to do focused work in between.

      1. James*

        Not really. There’s precedent. Henry Ford’s greatest achievement wasn’t the assembly line; that was ancient (the Romans had automated stone/wood cutting devices). His greatest achievement was studying and attempting to maximize workflow. My personal favorite is that he contracted a company to ship parts in boxes of specific dimensions. When the box arrived the workers would disassemble the boxes and use the pieces as parts of the car. A lot of his innovations looked like little nit-picky things–but in aggregate they saved his company millions of person-hours, allowing him to build his cars that much cheaper.

        The same concept applies to office workers. It may take an average of, oh, two minutes to respond to the average email. I get something like 100+ emails a day. That’s 200 minutes; that means on average I’m going to spend 3 hours and 20 minutes responding to emails. Up that to 200 emails a day, and you’re looking at almost 7 hours of emails. That means 1 hour of other work. That’s worth putting some time into thinking about.

  44. Steveo*

    OP #2 – If you are at all interested in continuing to help them, then I would have a reply prepared with your hourly contract rate for any assistance they need. Keep in mind this should be significantly more than your hourly pay, likely 2-3x more. It could also have implications on your new job as many companies have policies against moonlighting. But at least in this way you will be compensated. The best course of action is to simply say no or ignore the emails.

  45. boop the first*

    2. Wow, I have worked at some lousy jobs with lousy companies, and had questionable parents, so I get the social norms aspect, but I can’t say I’ve ever had conflict over whether or not to take orders from a former employer. Are you sure these coworkers aren’t being paid or otherwise gaining a personal benefit from their arrangement? Lots of people like to bring in as much money as possible by doing extra side quests.

    That said, I did have an employer who wanted me to come back, but the terms were unbearable. As “millennial” as it may be, I literally just didn’t answer the phone. He was very sneaky in that he wouldn’t reveal the topic in a message, because we both knew that he needed to trap people in a verbal speech web of guilt to get them to do his unpleasant bidding. If this resonates with you, don’t enter the speech web. Force them to communicate by text/email, and it will be way easier to be firm in your answer.

  46. boop the first*

    Uhh not sure what you would expect her workplace to do (since they’re likely being forced from the outside to grant her paid quarantine in the first place), or what her gig “employer” would do, since gig “employers” don’t care about anything, but you could surely report her to the health authority in your area, as they would certainly be motivated and empowered to respond.

  47. jamberoo*

    #1 – It’d be one thing if she were doing deliveries of meds because that’s a good and noble thing to do with free time, paid or not. BUT if she’s tested positive then she needs to STOP!!

    I get that she’s pulling her full pay and doing a ‘side hustle’ concurrently, but honestly for once I’m taking the optimist road and believe her service to those in need is more important than her earning some extra cash. That part I’m totally down with; it’s the either a) lying about being infected or b) delivering to vulnerable people WHILE INFECTED that would label her actions atrocious and worthy of notice. Yikes.

  48. KoiFeeder*

    I have to confess, I’m highly chilled that people are talking about the possibility of Lisa becoming homeless as a worse scenario than the possibility that she might infect and kill people like me.

    Not feeling the love tonight, AAM.

    1. Temperance*

      For what it’s worth, those people are in the vast minority. The group does admittedly sometimes default to doing backflips to find the kindest possible interpretation of any behavior, but most people are steadfastly opposed to Lisa’s jerky actions here.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Logic brain knows that. Brain weasels are capering about shrieking about how everyone thinks I’m a drain on society and an acceptable death.

        1. Blueberry*

          I wish I knew what to say to get the brain weasels to shut up (both yours and mine). You have all my sympathies and every right to continue to exist.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Love and well-wishes to both of you! This community would be a sadder place without either of you.

        2. Nic*

          You are not a drain, and you are not an acceptable death. No-one is. You are loved and you are valuable, and the world needs you in whatever way you can be here.

          Virtual *hugs* to you, if you’d like them (or virtual cookies if you’d prefer those!)

  49. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – there are really TWO issues here:
    1. Is Lisa using her paid quarantine leave to do a second job?
    2. Is Lisa violating her quarantine and putting vulnerable people at risk?

    In terms of Question 2 – if you are sure that you saw Lisa delivering medication to your house, and you know that she is under a directive to remain at home due to possible exposure to COVID-19, then you have a duty to report this to the pharmacy she works for and to public health. They will sort out whether or not she is actually violating a medically directed quarantine, whether that is for possible exposure, recent travel, actual exposure, etc. The medical direction to quarantine could be specific to her (eg. based on tracing the contacts of someone who has the disease) or a more general but still legally mandated quarantine to refrain from leaving the house (eg. in the case of recent travel). Either way, the quarantine is legal and the authorities can sort out whether she is violating it or not.

    In terms of Question 1 – if Lisa has been given PTO because she has a reason to be concerned about exposure to COVID 19, this will have been documented – either in terms of travel or through a doctor’s note. If Lisa lied to get the time off, your company has a right to know that. If Lisa is legitimately supposed to be self-isolating at home, and she’s not, public health has a right to know.

    I think – on balance – your social responsibility is to protect vulnerable people, whether they are at work or in your community. A person’s reasons for violating a quarantine really do NOT matter – the overriding concern is to protect people who could become seriously ill and/or die.

  50. nott the brave*

    Letter 3#: My work is a small business that’s trying to do something like this, and it’s not great from the other side of the equation either. They asked me to apply for unemployment/furlough but also that I do the reduced, WFH-capable tasks like regular even though they won’t be paying me for that time so I can collect unemployment. I’ve told them that shutting down is the vastly safer option rather than trying to operate at a reduced capacity and having the government pay the expenses but… well, one of my bosses is my mother, and it’s very hard to get parents to listen to their kids.

    Not the best of situations, I’m well aware, but please keep them from doing it to protect everyone involved.

  51. Drama Llama*

    It is a failure of government that people are not being protected from unscrupulous employers and are being put in the position of facing homelessness or putting other people at risk. Only the privileged sneer at others for wanting to survive and tell them they should be happy to risk their own lives living under a bridge so they don’t risk anyone else. We have no idea what Lisa’s circumstances are and I don’t think it is OP’s job to find out. She should report Lisa and I hope company will investigate the circumstances to make a fully informed decision. However if people actually want these behaviours to stop, call or email your government member and tell them you expect them to act on employers pressuring exposed employees to work and step up in protecting people against losing their livelihoods due to quarantine.

    1. Teapotcleaner*

      Good points but Lisa is being paid to quarantine from the employer. Seems like she is trying to double dip as a delivery person.

    2. Nic*

      We don’t know much – but we do know that Lisa is slightly higher ranking than OP, which means she won’t be getting paid less. Since OP doesn’t mention a second job, we can safely assume that the Primary employer is paying OP and Lisa a living wage. Now Lisa may well have different drains on her finances, and she is free – in other circumstances – to augment that wage all she likes.

      But in this circumstance, it is neither sneering nor privileged to demand that people stop putting the lives of others at risk. More than that: when the disabled, the immune-supressed and the chronically ill are saying “I want to survive this – please stop putting me at risk and treating my life as worthless”, they are absolutely not speaking from a position of privilege. In fact it’s the opposite; it is the privilege of health that is letting you sneer at their fear (and in many countries right now, their reality) of being abandoned to death.

  52. Safely Retired*

    #2 –
    First, do not give them your new address.
    Second, if you keep your cell phone number, block their number. If/when they call from some other number, say no and block that number too.

  53. Susana*

    Oh, OP 6 – I wold say congratulations, but what I really want to say is THANK YOU. Your success and optimism has really cheered me at a tough time – and I’m sure I’m not the only one you have helped today.

    Oh – and congrats as well!

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