I was taken out of work by my PCP (primary care practitioner) for severe medical reasons. I gave my job proper notice and had provided my work note. I was not aware that I did not have to disclose any health info with my employer and unfortunately made the mistake in telling ONE of the managers why I would be out. He said he understood, wished me the best and said he looked forwards to seeing me back at work.

A few weeks later I returned to work and as one of my co-workers were welcoming me back and asked where I've been, our shift lead yells out "she was 'sick'" with air quotes and emphasis on sick. I brushed it off and continued with my work. Almost 2 weeks after that incident, I was talking to one of the new hires that I had never met or spoken to until now, and she says to me "oooh you're name they said you've been out 'sick'" with the same air quotes. It's really upsetting because the reason I was out is still ongoing and its caused me so much extra stress and depression. I've had to cut back my work hours because I'm afraid to go to work some days.

Is there anything I can do? I can't quit my job, but I'm currently looking for a new one.

  • 10
    This needs a location tag, because your options vary on where you are from. Also, do you have reason to believe they have more details than "sick"? Because that's something people could definitely come up with on their own and not proof your manager told anyone.
    – Erik
    Apr 12, 2021 at 5:49
  • Hi, and welcome to workplace.SE! Unfortunately, your question needs some editing to be suitable here. Please add: a) your location and the domain/industry you work in, since questions around medical leaave and privacy tend to be location dependent, and b) please add what your goal is. Just asking "what can I do" is a bit too open-ended.
    – sleske
    Apr 12, 2021 at 9:12
  • I just found this site and made my first post last night so I apologize if I left out anything. I definitely wasn't aware you needed my occupation and location...
    – memesbee
    Apr 12, 2021 at 14:57
  • If it helps I'm a full time student working as a cashier in California
    – memesbee
    Apr 12, 2021 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


"she was 'sick'

You may be reading too much into this by assuming everyone knows all your details, and things like this are just the office drama of the moment, they disappear pretty quickly.

Is there anything I can do? I can't quit my job, but I'm currently looking for a new one.

Job searching is a reasonable thing to do if you're feeling too stressed out at your current employment. No need to add drama though, that will not lessen your stress.

  • Honestly, I highly doubt I'm reading into too much. My workplace is full of chatty Cathy's. Our general manager gossips so much. I'm a very private person. I don't have work friends because the people I work with aren't the kind of people I like to surround myself with so I really go to work, do my job, and go home.
    – memesbee
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:04
  • 2
    @memesbee I understand, but it's still best to think positive and ignore the rubbish. No sense getting frustrated or bitter, thats bad for your peace of mind and you're already depressed. No one else is losing any sleep over this at your workplace.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:23

You probably should go back to one of the manager that seemed to be supportive, and explain the situation to them.

You can then ask them if your health information had been disclosed to other employees.

They will probably deny it, and tell the team member to stop that behaviour.

It is highly inappropriate to comment on the health condition of coworkers. And some types of this commentary can be other forms of harassment too.

  • 2
    I would especially address the "air qotation" directly with the coworkers: Ask them what they heard and demand the gossip to stop. Maybe you'll realize that they even have wrong information, distorted by mouth to mouth office gossip.
    – jwsc
    Apr 12, 2021 at 11:52
  • I'm sure they do have the wrong info with the way people gossip in there. My thing is the air quotes, I don't know why its upsetting me so much. As if they're letting on that they know more than they should.
    – memesbee
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:08

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