My wife recently attended a conference for work some seven hours travel time away. At the end there was a purely social closing banquet, during which her boss demanded that she, and the other three managers turn off their phones and pass them to her. She then took possession of them and put them out of reach of the managers. The reason the boss gave was that she wanted them to have a "nice conversation". Prior to this banquet there had been no restrictions placed on phone use and my wife and I had remained in touch via text message (initiated by my wife when convenient around her duties at the conference).
The primary concern my wife and I have with this demand is that I have some long-standing health concerns of a serious and potentially life-threatening nature that could easily result in hospitalization on very short notice (as has been the case on several occasions in the past). Therefore, my wife was uncomfortable with being completely unreachable in the event of an emergency. When I came to know of this later, I too was uncomfortable.
However, what is strange is that the boss is also in a similar situation regarding her father's health and therefore chose to leave her phone turned on. The boss is also fully aware of my medical conditions, yet she chose to deny my wife access to her family while she did not do the same to herself.
Was my wife's boss request unreasonable or inappropriate? How could my wife have reacted to this request and push back against the requirement to relinquish her phone? Or how should she handle it in the future should it come up again?