Many law firms have figured out that the best way to stop the spread of swine flu is to have their sick people stay home from work. Last week, we mentioned that Akerman Senterfitt had explicitly told its associates that staying home because of swine flu would not count against their vacation time.
The stay home message has also gone out at K&L Gates. But apparently one associate didn’t get the memo and showed up to work despite having flu-like symptoms. The associate was eventually diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.
The associate drew the ire of K&L Gates managing partner Peter Kalis. All associates at K&L Gates then received a blistering email from the managing partner.
The level of self absorption and obliviousness evidenced by the first employee is difficult to fathom and unacceptable at K&L Gates.
How can we fathom an associate coming into work at the risk of infecting his or her co-workers? I’ve got two theories:
A. It’s the Russell-from-Survivor strategy. The associate was trying to weaken his or her own team in an attempt to stay on the K&L Island. It’s the Biglaw equivalent of burning the socks and pouring out all of the water.
It wouldn’t be the first time in recorded history that somebody used germs to a competitive advantage.
B. Terrified of being laid off, the associate was just trying to put in the face time. Kalis doesn’t tell us why the associate was in the conference room. Maybe it was a big case or a big deal and, paradoxically, the associate wanted to look like a team player. Nobody wants the “unreliable” label on their performance review.
Either way, people have to be more intelligent about managing a flu-like illness. You can’t show up to work just to cough all over a pregnant woman. Hopefully, people will get the message now.
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