Sick? We’ve all been there! However, attempting to navigate calling out sick can be a struggle when manipulative managers are involved! These employees reveal the times they were threatened by their belittling bosses when they called out sick. Yikes, I’ll be taking notes for the next time I’m sick! Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Hope She Got Sick”
“I was an assistant manager of a fabric store. Some days I would open the store, and other days I would close it.
One morning, I woke up with the flu. I felt horrible, as you could imagine. I was supposed to close on this day, so I called very early and told the manager I couldn’t come in, hoping to give them the whole workday to find someone to close.
The manager replied, ‘Actually, I was just about to call you to open. The other assistant manager forgot she had to take her child to an appointment. Can you come in to work now?’
‘Definitely not,’ I replied, ‘I have the flu. I can barely leave my bed.’
‘But we need you,’ the manager begged, ‘Please come in.’
I sighed, ‘I have a fever and I am dizzy, I don’t think it is a good idea for me to be working.’
Fed up, the manager replied, ‘Well, I have no other choice other than to have you come in.’
I couldn’t believe the manager wanted me to come in and work with the public when I had the flu. She wouldn’t budge, so I got dressed and went to work.
One of the things I had to do was open the safe and count all the money to make sure the total matched the night before, and bring the cash drawers out to the registers. Any time I wasn’t in the office, it was policy to lock the safe. Even if I was only walking away for one minute, and even if the store was closed and locked, the safe needed to be locked. I counted the drawers but I was having trouble counting the rest of the money because I couldn’t concentrate. I was so dizzy! I kept losing track and having to start over.
Finally, since it was getting close to opening the store, I decided to take the drawers out to the registers and then come back and try to count the cash. I closed the safe and carried out the drawers, just as a regional manager came through the door. She went straight to the office. When I came into the office, the safe was standing open. I was shocked because I knew I had closed it. The regional manager asked me why the safe was open when I knew it was the policy to lock it when I left the office.
‘I am almost certain I closed the safe,’ I replied.
The regional manager rolled her eyes and responded, ‘Sure it was closed, but it wasn’t locked.’
I tried to explain how I wasn’t even supposed to be there because I was sick, but the RM continued, ‘We’re going to have to let you go. Not locking the safe is against policy.’
I was stunned, as I was one of the most knowledgeable employees in the store and never missed one day of work. I stood there swaying and trying not to pass out, wondering how I was going to support my kids now.
The RM told one of the other employees to call someone to replace me so the store wouldn’t be short-handed. I grabbed my stuff and headed for the door.
The RM said, ‘Where do you think you’re going? You have to stay until someone comes to take your shift. If we can’t find anyone, you’ll finish the day.’
I looked at her with an incredulous expression and replied, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ve just been fired for dragging my sick self out of bed to cover for someone who can’t be bothered to keep track of their appointments. I’m going home and going to bed!’
Then I walked out.
I hope she got sick.”
Wisdom Teeth Worries
“I had a full-time job as a banker and a part-time job in a pet shop when I lived in Toronto years ago. I had taken Friday off from my bank job to have two wisdom teeth removed.
My pet store’s assistant manager called me Friday evening and said, ‘You need to be at work early on Saturday morning for a product knowledge meeting before your shift.’
I explained to him, through gauze in my mouth and painkillers in my system slurring my speech, ‘I don’t think I will be able to make it to work at all tomorrow. I’m not feeling well.’
‘Oh, you’ll be here,’ he said forcefully, ‘And you will be here on time!’
End of conversation.
I found this a bit odd since the assistant manager was normally a soft-spoken sweetheart of a guy, so I figured the meeting must be pretty important. I hauled my poor carcass out of bed on Saturday morning, staggered to the bus stop, poured myself onto a bus, and got to the store in time for the meeting.
When I saw the assistant manager, he asked, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you so shaky?’
‘I just got my wisdom teeth out, I’m feeling pretty bad from the medication,’ I explained.
He was aghast.
‘Oh my gosh,’ he burst out laughing, ‘When I talked to you last night about the meeting, I thought you had been drinking! I wasn’t going to accept your missing work for that reason!’
Oh. Thanks for the vote of confidence, boss.
He sent me home afterward. Admittedly, the situation was pretty funny.”
The Food Line Flue
“I worked for a food establishment that kept all of its food on a ‘line.’ One day, I was sicker than I’d ever been and needed to call out. I figured this wouldn’t be a problem since I never called out, but I was wrong.
The manager forced me to come in under the threat of termination.
So, I came in. I made food on the line, and I had a very specific urge to barf. But, oh my oh me! I couldn’t leave the line! I had food to make! So I threw up. On the food in the line.
The company had to close for a short time to have the line professionally cleaned and sanitized.
When they finally reopened, I got called into the office.
When the manager asked what happened, I replied quite plainly, ‘I tried to call out sick and was forced to report to work.’
The manager’s genius response was, ‘Well, you were scheduled to work, so you had to come in.’
‘How much did it cost to have the line professionally cleaned?’ I asked.
The manager gave me a rough figure, but they forgot about the money they lost out on by being forced to be closed. Finally, I told the managers when I called out, it was for a reason.
I looked the manager in the eye and said, ‘If you force me to come in while I am sick and throwing up, I will purposely throw up on the line again so you can pay the price once more. If you try to saddle me with the bill of cleaning the line, reduce my hours, or fire me, I will be more than happy to report you.’
The next week, my hours were reduced. I pulled out my phone, looked up the work harassment phone number, and started punching the numbers in my phone in front of my manager. My hours were immediately reinstated.
Afterward, anytime I called out sick, I was told to feel better and call when I wasn’t sick anymore.”
The Sick Supermarket Employee
“I was nineteen and working retail in 1998. I called in because I had the flu with body aches, fever, and nausea. I was supposed to go in for my shift from eight in the morning to five in the evening, but I called out around seven in the morning.
The store manager said, ‘You need to be here, or else don’t bother coming into work again. You’re the only cashier scheduled.’
So, I went in.
When I arrived, my shift manager took one look at me and said, ‘Wow, you look awful!’
I replied, ‘Yeah, the store manager told me to show up or else.’
The manager replied, ‘Well, stay away from me. You’ll be working register ten.’
Since this was a weekday morning, traffic in the store was light. I spent my day with my head against the cold scanner, lifting it up for customers as they came to check out. Every single customer asked why I wasn’t home for being sick, and I told them the truth.
When customers finished their transactions, they spoke to the service desk manager about me. Over the course of four hours, over thirty people complained about me being sick and working on a register. Not a single person managed to convince management to send me home, though.
An hour before I was supposed to leave work, the store manager saw me at the register with my head on the scanner.
The store manager screamed, ‘You need to stand up and do some work!’
I looked up at her with my pale face and bloodshot eyes and threw up all over her. All of the customers and employees around witnessed my store manager look at me, look at the throwup, and scream in disgust.
The store manager finally told me, ‘Clock out and don’t come in for a few days.’
When I came back three days later, I was told the store manager had left that day shortly after I had and didn’t come back since. Additionally, several customers called corporate to complain about a sick employee being forced to come to work. A friend of mine who worked in the office informed me both the store and assistant manager were chewed out on separate calls by corporate.
The assistant manager was fired a couple of months later for various other complaints from customers and employees alike. The store manager stayed with the store until it was closed during a round of layoffs a few years later.”