I recently started a new job in a small office. My company offers sick days, and in theory, anyone who's sick is supposed to stay home and recover. In reality, this doesn't happen. Only one of my co-workers has been sick this year, but he has never taken a day off. In the office culture, taking a sick day seems to be frowned upon by just about everyone because the rest of the team has to cover for anyone who's out.
Unfortunately, I get sick a little more easily than the average person. There's no reason for it besides just luck of the draw. I don't have any medical conditions that make me formally immunocompromised, but colds seem to latch onto me at the drop of a hat, they always have. Spending several hours a day in a small office with a sick person is practically a guarantee of getting sick for me.
I've been sick a few times this year, always after that co-worker was sick first, and it's been bad enough that I had to take sick days (even if I did drag myself in, I wouldn't have been productive at ALL). Now, other people in the office are complaining about it.
It's bad enough that my co-worker in all probability gave me his colds by going to work when sick. But what really bothers me is that the general opinion in the office is that my co-worker did this awesome thing by working sick, and that I'm not a team player because I followed the rules and took time off, when he's responsible for causing the problem. In other words, he did the bad thing and I'm getting punished. Punished twice, if you count being sick separately from work complaints.
I feel like I have legitimate points, but I don't know how to raise them, because who wants to listen to the unpopular person? I'm afraid that anything I say would be considered whining or an attempt to use the rules to deflect criticism. How can I bring this discussion up with my team constructively? Or am I out of line here?