INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Workers at a metro post office are outraged over how their employers handled a colleague who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Several employees, who asked to remain anonymous, told FOX4 an unidentified mail carrier at the main post office in Independence, off Lexington Avenue, started feeling ill over the 4th of July holiday weekend.
The carrier called in sick the following Monday, July 6, telling management that he was coughing, experiencing muscle pain and had a temperature over 100 degrees, according to his colleagues. He got tested the same day for the virus.
“Word around the office is one of the managers says, ‘Hey, this guy’s probably lying. He just doesn’t want to be here,'” one worker said.
“They just rolled the dice with our health and everybody’s safety,” another worker said.
The sick mail carrier took the next three days off, waiting for his results.
Employees told FOX4 workers are required to provide documentation if out sick for more than three days. The carrier apparently only had a vague receipt of his test, so he went into work on Thursday.
“They tell him, ‘You know what? We need a body on that route. You need to go out and try,’” one worker said.
“When you know someone is ill during a pandemic and you still bring them into work and you have them go out into the community and possible spread disease, that’s reckless and it’s unacceptable,” another added.
Employees told FOX4 the ill carrier struggled to finish his shift, after which he learned he was in fact COVID-19 positive. Employees said he went back to the post office to drop off documentation proving he had the virus.
USPS informed staff of the COVID-19 positive employee a day after they received the documentation, according to employees who spoke with FOX4.
“The man should’ve never been allowed to come into the station, and that was a judgement call by our postmaster,” one worker said.
In a statement to FOX4, Mark Inglett with the United States Postal Service said the agency is investigating the details and will react accordingly, adding the following:
“The Postal Service has a liberal employee sick leave usage policy and encourages those who are sick to stay home and get well.
“If an employee is displaying any symptoms we encourage them to seek immediate medical attention and remain at home until medically cleared. This has been widely communicated through employee web pages, stand up talks, in home mailers and employee publications.
“The Postal Service is vigilant in its efforts to provide a safe working environment to all of its employees following all CDC guidelines.
“We continue to educate and train our employees on proper social distancing and procedures to reduce the risk of COVID infection. We also provide hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves to all of our employees to reduce risks as well.“
“The way we’re treated is intimidation, intimidation, intimidation,” one worker said.
Employees told FOX4 that workers don’t call in sick out of fear of being ridiculed by their supervisors. They want to see a change moving forward.
“I think they owe the workers an explanation of what they plan to do differently next time,” another worker said.