I’d like to preface this that work knows that I have a disability. I have heard comments from my boss like “I want whatever your taking” because I was calm and professional in a meeting, in a performance review told me I look like Eeyore too often (my disability is mental health related), and frequently infantilizes me and tells me I couldn’t handle working for another boss.

I have been working from home with little issue for the last 2.5 months. I recently had a test for Covid and the results were negative, but due to someone being close to me without a mask my doctor wanted me to isolate for two weeks. I told my boss this and told her I could furnish her a doctors note if need be. She replied and asked twice, in the same email, why I needed to isolate after getting a negative test, she then said she should have a note for our senior manager and HR.

I felt her questioning was inappropriate and with her history of inappropriate comments I contacted HR and explained the situation and told them about my bosses behavior and that I didn’t feel comfortable giving her more medical information. I sent it to HR and it seemed everything was fine. I had a remote meeting with my boss and at the end I mentioned I sent the letter to HR. She got upset and said she wanted this for her “just in case” for her “back pocket” in case people asked. She told me I opened a whole can of worms (something about someone at work being test for covid scaring people) and she told me not to talk to HR and go directly through her.

Can she tell me not to give information to our HR department and is this something a manager should do? I’m not sure there’s a reason not to talk to HR other than it would make her look bad (which she also voiced as a concern)

  • 12
    Why would it matter to your company that you had to self isolate if you have been working from home for the past 2.5 months?
    – sf02
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 20:43
  • 9
    "Can she tell me not to give information to our HR department and is this something a manager should do?" Come on. You know the answer to that question. No, a manager is not allowed to say that. But what are you going to do? Make a second HR complaint against her? Just ignore her instructions instead. And document everything. Keep that documentation at home in case you get fired. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 20:46
  • 6
    Yeah, talk to HR about absolutely everything you presented here. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 20:48
  • 2
    The country will also be relevant here.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 4:17

2 Answers 2


Can she tell me not to give information to our HR department

Of course she can. She just did. If your question is "is this legal or does this violate a policy" the answer depends a lot on your local laws. Check your employee handbook and contract/offer letter for the applicable policies and company rules.

In the US that would likely be a violation of HIPPA and it would be illegal for your manager to ask for medical information.

and is this something a manager should do?

A manager should behave in compliance with company policies and local laws and regulations. Check those.

I’m not sure there’s a reason not to talk to HR

If you find that this violates local laws and regulation, you should actually talk to HR. In the US this behavior could get the company in real trouble an it's HR's job to ensure compliance and protect the company. They can only do this if they know that there is a problem.

  • HR is on the side of the law, and will side with you against the manager. If the manager has any brains, they'll back off and acknowledge their mistake, because the next step is to get legal involved and put distance between the company and the manager (i.e.: fire them).
    – Nelson
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 7:50
  • @Nelson: that really depends on depends on the country and local regulations which vary greatly throughout the world, so this is a dangerous blanket statement.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 16:40
  • @Nelson Completely wrong. HR is there to represent the interests of the company and only the company wherever that may take them. HR is never on the side of the employee but may find it in the company's interests to take a position that aligns with the employee. Never think that HR is your friend.
    – rhoonah
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 17:26
  • @rhoonah Uh, actually it'll side with the legal position and not simply "the interest of the company". Not paying employees is technically in the interest of the company, but you'll not find many HR that will allow this. Hence the specific wording stating "HR is on the side of the law" and not "on the side of the employee/employer".
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 0:51
  • @Nelson So in that case they are representing the company by following the law. At the end of the day, HR represents the company. Period. They are not there to help you but to server the company. If helping you also serves the company, then those two positions just happen to align. Never trust HR.
    – rhoonah
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 18:57

Your boss might be more upset that it seemed to them like you deliberately disobeyed their request to furnish them with the doctor's note. I suspect that it would have been better received if you'd pushed back right at the very beginning when the request had been made. It's also possible they felt like you were not forthcoming with this disobedience since you said that you mentioned it at the end of a later meeting.

I'm not condoning your boss's behavior at all, but you might find it helps to better understand why they are upset (even if it is for rather childish reasons).

  • One cannot “disobey” a request. It would be courteous to give her what she asked for, but it wasn’t an order from a general that must be followed to the letter on pain of death.
    – prieber
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 18:02

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