The manager says her hands are tied because it is a medical problem.
Q: I am disgusted by a co-worker who sniffs and sneezes all day long. If anyone mentions this, “Brittany” plays the victim and says she can’t help it because she has allergies. I control my own allergies with medication, so I don’t think that’s a valid excuse.
The worst part is that Brittany constantly sneezes without covering her mouth and sprays germs all over our small office. Although several people have complained, our manager says her hands are tied because this is a medical problem. Do you have any suggestions?
A: For starters, you might be slightly more forgiving about Brittany’s medical issues. While you may have found an allergy treatment that works for you, her condition may not be comparable. That said, however, her refusal to cover sneezes is both rude and unsanitary, so your group has every right to revisit this issue with your boss.
For example: “We understand that Brittany has uncontrollable allergies. However, she needs to show more consideration for her colleagues. By refusing to cover her mouth when she sneezes, she is spreading germs around the office. Could you please explain to her that this is unacceptable?”
If your boss follows through with a firm discussion, hopefully Brittany will comply. But if not, the group may need to provide ongoing reminders, along with some sanitizing wipes and a box of tissues.