Still Harping

I know I keep harping on it but it really bugs me.

We have a great office that works with disabled students. They do amazing work. It’s great to see disabled students on campus. It’s one of the biggest achievements of this country that disabled people aren’t hidden from sight because healthy folks don’t want to look at them or have them around.

We get very meticulous training from this office. One thing that’s drilled into us to the point that it’s now a basic reflex is that we should never question students about the nature of their disability or their medical status. We are told that it’s illegal to ask people medical questions in the workplace, especially when they depend on you for grades or wages. I’m completely supportive of this approach.

Why, then, is it OK to grill employees on their vaccination status, which should rather be called voluntary participation in an experimental gene therapy?

Even in a job that requires drug testing at the point of hiring, it’s not OK for the dean or provost to question you – especially in public – about the results of your test.

By throwing away good, useful practices over a perceived “state of emergency” we are setting bad precedent that will come to bite us into our ever-expanding asses.

And please, please don’t say “people can refuse to answer.” Is it OK if I start questioning students in class about their mental health status under the assumption that they can always refuse to answer? A refusal to answer is already an answer. Plus, it’s not easy to refuse to answer when the person asking signs your contract and everybody else in the group has already eagerly answered.

I remember when a young female job candidate was asked in an interview if she was planning to have kids “because we don’t need yet another person who’ll start procreating instead of working, ha ha.” Yes, seriously, I was there when it happened (I wasn’t the job candidate). All of the effort it cost at least somewhat to walk away from this mentality, and now we are bringing it back. If “public interest” trumps privacy, the consequences can be quite unpleasant.

12 thoughts on “Still Harping

  1. That is extremely problematic. I’m trying to think of which agency is responsible for dealing with questions of health status in the workplace. Possibly the National Labor Relations Board?

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      1. Another thing that bugs me is a constant public discussion in the workplace of people who had COVID in their absence. “Does he still have symptoms? He looks like he’s nov himself. Have you heard anything?” Would this be ok if people discussed, say, the postpartum hypertension of dn absent colleague? No, it wouldn’t. Now it’s constant. “Have you heard? X had COVID. – Really? I saw him in the office yesterday, and he said nothing.”

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  2. “Why, then, is it OK to grill employees on their vaccination status, which should rather be called voluntary participation in an experimental gene therapy?”

    It’s just how power behaves. Logic systems are built on cause and effect, where one precedes or follows the other according to the rules of the logic system. Power systems aren’t based on logic based rules. They exist solely on the premise that power can do whatever it wants because that’s what power is. The ones with power can call a vanilla milkshake a vaccine then demand that you be injected with it, where the only way to resist is to somehow wield more power.

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    1. What scares me is that people are so eagerly collaborating abd throwing hard-won protections out of the window, apparently thinking that this won’t bleed into other parts of life.

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      1. “…apparently thinking that this won’t bleed into other parts of life”

        I know several immigrants from non English speaking backgrounds and a year 3 education who openly say how bad it all is just from watching news on Youtube. If such disadvantaged people can figure it out with a bit of thinking, then anyone could, which means that the ones who don’t get it likely aren’t thinking, but rather reacting emotionally (and mindlessly).

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  3. There are and have long been all sorts of vaccination requirements. To get into countries. To register in school. To join a group camping trip. Etc.

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    1. When exactly was an experimental gene therapy a condition for attending school?

      We are getting manipulated into something atrocious by the use of comforting words that have zero meaning in this situation.

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      1. And it’s not even the point. It never happened before that people in the workplace would aggressively interrogate one about, say, the flu vaccine. Never happened. But now it’s completely normal.

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    2. None of those are covered only by an EUA, though. Emergency Use Authorization contracts state specifically that participation is voluntary.

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  4. Clarissa, is it possible for you to put a blanket ban on gossip about employee health? Or at least to start a campaign strongly discouraging it. Excessive gossip can lead to a toxic work environment, and if they’re asking questions about health status they also need an education in HIPAA. They need to know that this kind of harassment or discrimination is not okay.

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