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Toxic Boss Responds To A Single Mom Calling Out Because Of A Sick Child By Saying She Needs To Put Work First

Photo: Prostock-Studio, MangoStar / Shutterstock 
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After a woman’s son fell ill, she informed her boss that she would be unable to make it to work the following day. Instead of responding empathetically to his employee over the situation that was out of her control, her boss chastised her for not “putting work first.” 

Rather than put up with his inappropriate behavior since he was her boss, the woman chose to reach out to HR and inform them about how she was treated. 

The woman’s boss told her that she ‘needed’ to come to work despite her child being ill since she had a job to do. 

The baffling story was shared by TikTok user Chris Donnelly (@donnellycss), who read the text message exchange between the employee and her boss. The video was a part of his “MOST TOXIC COMPANIES,” series. 

After her son became suddenly ill, the woman messaged her boss explaining her situation and told him that she would be unable to make it to work the following day. “Very sorry for the short notice, but my son is really ill and cannot go to school,” she wrote. However, she assured her boss that she would call in for the 3 p.m. meeting that was scheduled. 

   

   

Despite the woman’s willingness to accommodate the meeting, even with a sick child, her boss made it more than clear that he did not agree with her decision to call out. “For [expletive's] sake, today of all days,” the boss responded. “This meeting is so important to the firm. My kids are ill all the time, it’s fine!” 

He emphasized that the company needed to put its “best foot forward,” since they were close to sealing a deal with one of its clients. 

The woman insisted that just because she had to tend to her sick son, did not mean she failed to realize the meeting’s importance. “I know how important it is. I manage the account and I have been the one to pull it back from the brink of them leaving to a point where they are ready to spend more with us,” the woman wrote. “They are dialing in anyway so I honestly do not see the problem.” 

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The woman’s boss then instructed her not to be “facetious,” and asked if she could come into the office anyway despite her sick child and the hour-long commute. 

toxic boss says single mom calling out with sick child should prioritize workPhoto: Rido / Canva Pro

When she asked her boss what she was supposed to do with her son while she went to work, her boss told her that he had kids as well and that sometimes “work has to come first.” 

Not only did the woman remind her boss that work should not have to come first in a situation like hers, but that her circumstances were vastly different than his. “I don’t want to get into the whole who has life worse competition,” the boss replied. “The firm needs you to do this work.” 

The woman argued that the presentation that she intended to deliver at the meeting was already prepared and that she spent several nights completing it. It could easily be shared by another employee. 

Then, she rightfully let him have it. “I’ll be very honest with you now. I think you are being deeply inappropriate right now. I will take this up with you and HR afterward,” she wrote. “You have accused me of exaggerating how sick my child is, tried to force me to work with a sick kid, told me to leave my kid for hours while sick, compared your life to mine even though I’m a single mother, and told me the work is easy even though I did it all.” 

   

   

The woman also pointed out that she was more familiar with the client than her boss since she was the one who spent so much time with her working on the project. “I know she’d never want me to come in with a sick kid,” she wrote. 

The woman claimed that after the meeting, she would ask to be transferred to another team and that she would be reporting her boss to HR for being inappropriate. Still, her boss continued to argue with her.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I just want us to do a good job so it reflects well on you,” he responded. “Nothing I have said here is bad and HR won’t even care that I try and get my team to work hard. HR knows people take far too much sick time off and therefore won’t care that I tried to manage the situation.” 

The woman contacted HR and attached various text messages, Whatsapp messages, and emails that illustrated her boss’ mistreatment. 

“I want to be clear. This has nothing to do with a male-female relationship,” the woman wrote to HR. “I just simply think he is harsh, demeaning, micromanaging, aggressive, and manipulative.” 

   

   

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She called her boss an “awful manager,” who outsourced work to staff members with little to no support and provided unhelpful feedback just minutes before presentations. 

While she admitted that she got along well with her boss on a personal level, she couldn't work with him any longer, even if it meant that she had to leave the firm. 

Illnesses are entirely out of our control. While it can be stressful for bosses to scramble and find last-minute coverage when an employee calls out sick or has to tend to their sick child, they should not attempt to force or guilt their staff members to come in. 

It is especially difficult for single parents to find childcare, particularly for those who are working. 

toxic boss says single mom calling out with sick child should prioritize workPhoto: Tomsickova Tatyana / Shutterstock 

Not only are they unable to leave their sick children, but they could also bring the illness to work with them, unintentionally infecting their colleagues which means even more last-minute call-outs. 

If you must call out of work to look after your sick child, it is important to let your boss know as soon as possible, just like the woman did. Keep the lines of communication open, and update them with time estimates of when you believe you’ll be back. 

It is also important to keep in mind that illness can strike at any time, and it is not something that you should feel guilty over. 

That is why companies offer sick days in the first place. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.