Have you ever dealt with a co-worker's hygiene issue? Offer your advice and thoughts to this reader who posted in our Ask Savvy group.
Ok, so a co-worker of mine VERY casually mentioned to me that she has bed bugs. She spoke as if she got "rid" of them but what was still itchy because of paranoia ("They're gone but I'm still itchy . . . I think it's just in my head" is more or less what she was saying). I KNOW that just vacuuming won't get rid of those things. I told her "you need to throw things away and find the source." I was so stunned that I couldn't remember if I also told her to call pest control. Just that when I told her to throw things away she replied with "it's so expensive to get rid of things" and she was looking at cheap alternatives online. She was also focused on the fact she thinks it's her sister's fault for being messy (I know being messy doesn't help but it's not necessarily the cause of the issue either).
When I repeated the part of getting rid of things she said "oh, maybe it's the carpet . . . I don't like that carpet anyway." I panicked and a few minutes later I spoke with the VP's assistant (we are a small business with eight people in my department and 25-50 people or so total. We also deal with about 14,000 customer needs a month too.)
Read on for more.
I know it can happen to anyone at anytime but it's becoming a really big problem and if it can be contained or reduced that would be for the best in my opinion. The VP said she would go to a resource she uses to find out what to do once she had my confirmation of what my co-worker had said. She spoke to a league that she is a part of and eventually TWO attorneys. She pulled me aside once again after lunch to tell me this. Apparently, she also checked the manual and she is responsible for creating a safe, secure and healthy working environment for all of us. She knew that for example, if someone had lice, she would have to ask that person to leave and after talking to the two attorneys she would HAVE to speak with this employee. It is such an unusual circumstance that they had to go through two attorneys to find out how to deal with this situation.
It's not that I want to get someone fired . . . not at all. But I don't want this hanging over my head or worrying about bringing this home to my family because she didn't stay home or even bothered to call a pest agency! The girl saw me speak to them earlier and rushed to come ask me what it was about (she had seen them call me to the conference room). I lied because the VP didn't know at that point what was going to happen and they had made this effort not to violate our privacy. I still think only the four of us know about this! I felt guilty but I didn't want her to feel bad.
To finish reading this post in its entirety, continue reading here. In the meantime, did you think this reader did the right thing? Should she leave her job because of it or do you think she's overreacting?