Ask Amy: My employee wants to be fired and is refusing to work

DEAR AMY: I’m a small-business owner and have
about 10 employees.

Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

During the COVID shutdown I am continuing to pay all my
employees their full salary. Some are at home, while some are able
to work in isolated and safe shifts –strictly following the state
guidelines for this industry.

One employee is agitating to be fired. This person is eager to
receive unemployment benefits, believing — I suppose — that I
would rehire them when the benefits run out.

I can keep my business afloat for around six months before
running into serious trouble.

I am not judging anyone for taking government money, but I am
disgusted by this individual who is gainfully employed but who
basically wants things both ways.

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I have now heard a rumor that the employee went ahead and applied
for unemployment, despite still being employed and paid by me.

Now we are in a standoff situation, with me refusing to fire the
employee, and the employee refusing to work and refusing to quit
(because then they wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment

What’s your take on this?


DEAR EMPLOYER: It seems to me that if the
employee is cashing paychecks and unemployment checks, this would
be grounds for termination “for cause,†which would then
disqualify them from receiving unemployment.

This is from an article in the National Law Review: “That
employer must consider whether the employee’s refusal [to work]
is reasonable in light of the measures taken to mitigate the risk
of COVID-19 in the workplace, whether the employee has a covered
disability that must be accommodated, and whether the employee is
entitled to leave under multiple layers of leave laws. This is a
complicated analysis, and employers are well-advised to involve
employment counsel to assist them at the outset.â€

DEAR AMY: About a month ago, at the start of
the pandemic restrictions in our area, I was talking with my
brother by phone and he voiced concern about my husband’s work,
which he believed might expose our mother to the COVID virus.

She lives close by, and we visit one another quite often. My
husband, although an essential worker, has little to no contact
with others while he works. He always showers and puts his clothes
in the laundry whenever he gets home, before he greets me or the

My brother, believing that these efforts weren’t enough,
proceeded to shout at me at the top of his lungs, accusing me of
everything from not caring about our mother’s health to not
listening to him.

My husband and kids were in the next room, so I told him I would
talk to him later when he calmed down, and then I hung up.

For the next three days he sent aggressive and threatening texts
and emails; eventually I blocked his number.

My mother’s view is that “this is just how he
communicates.†She wants me to let it go.

I’m fine with letting it go, but that doesn’t mean I want to
continue to communicate with him. This is not the first time he has
done this.

When it comes to family events in the future, how should I
handle interactions with him?

Had Enough

DEAR HAD ENOUGH: Hopefully, you will — we all
will — have family events in the future.

The law of natural consequences states that the natural reaction
to being berated is to avoid the person who is berating you. If
your brother has reasonable concerns to share, he should find a
reasonable way to express them.

People are panicking right now. Your brother no doubt feels
powerless. This doesn’t absolve him of the need to behave
respectfully, however, and now he has lost access to you.

Do not involve your mother in this conflict. He is her son, and
she will defend his behavior in order to try to resolve this
conflict between her two children.

In the future, you should approach every contact with your
brother as an opportunity for a fresh start. If he can’t move
forward, and chooses to try to re litigate this issue with you at
every turn, then you will know that he is simply not ready, or
able, to start over.

DEAR AMY: You asked how people were spending
time productively during our national confinement. I took up
genealogy. Talk about a fascinating way to spend these long


DEAR SATISFIED: Every leaf on every branch of
every family tree contains a story. This is a really nice “legacy
project.†Good for you.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a
letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also
follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
Ask Amy: My employee wants to be fired and is refusing to