How Employers Are Crossing The Line, By An Essential Worker

Damielys Duarte/Staff Writer

For the lucky minority who are still employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, this stroke of luck has come with its consequences. As pressure from the lockdown mounts, some businesses aren’t afraid to cross lines with their employees in order to stay open. 

I work in a luxury condominium on South Beach and my personal experience has proven that although I am blessed to have a steady source of income, the environment I am now subjected to is anything but normal. 

For starters, masks are a must, even when dismounting or heading to your vehicle. Failure to comply is grounds for insubordination and you could be sent home for the day. Then there are the daily temperature checks and bag checks, thanks to suspicion of employees stealing office supplies like gloves and Germ-X.

Office doors are locked and barrier ropes are placed in front of them to discourage residents from approaching. And while these measures can be peevish, I do find them warranted for the community’s overall health.

However the one practice I found slightly alarming was when my management office combined forces with local Miami Beach medical clinics to provide preliminary antibody testing for COVID. By examining positive or negative IgG/IgM results the doctors could determine recent or past infection and potential immunity.

The test consists of a finger prick which in ten to twenty minutes will notify you if you have COVID antibodies—positive meaning you have been exposed to the virus but overcame it and negative indicating you have not been exposed.

Seeing as the test cannot tell you if you are actively carrying the virus made the procedure seem unnecessary and wasteful in my eyes. In the end, exposed or not, nothing changes after the results. 

Many staff and residents were excited to hear this, but I was worried for my rights as an employee. Did my employer have the right to force me to partake in an unnecessary medical examination?

Fortunately, I was able to stand my ground and not face any consequences for my lack of participation in the project. But this scenario did showcase the lengths a place of work will take in order to stay ahead of the curb and how a global crisis can have companies acting in extreme measures.

Although a gesture of goodwill for eager participants, I found this experience to be a far overreach of employer power and how a non-medical related association can have a complete medical procedure underway on property.

While the safety of existing work environments is crucial with this pandemic, I do believe businesses need to respect their employees’ medical privacy and refrain from extreme measures not pertaining to their line of work.

Featured image by Jernej Furman on Flickr.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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