“Confidential”— A Mort Laitner Short Story



 By Mort Laitner

To conduct surveillance, for Client JHU, on employee who was requested not to come to workplace until flu symptoms abated after displaying flu-like symptoms on the job. Subject alleges he is not spreading virus throughout workplace.

We conducted surveillance on subject employee at his place of employment on September 15, 2010 from 8:00 am till 5:00 pm and observed employee conducting himself with total disregard for the health everyone who surrounded him. Employee did not sneeze in his sleeve. He sneezed in open air in the direction of coworkers. Employee also did not wash hands after sneezing and coughing in them and then shook hands with his supervisor. Employee was told:

  1. Use accrued paid-time-off hours;
  2. Use his accrued compensatory time;
  3. Make up the work on an hour-for-hour basis during the same workweek with supervisory approval;
  4. Work from home with supervisory approval;
  5. Request a leave without pay absence;

We obtained 30 minutes of videotape.

 Employee’s Workplace

Miami, Florida


8:00 AM

Investigator arrived at employee’s workplace and assumed a discreet surveillance position. Employee’s vehicle was not observed in the parking lot. We learned from employees’ supervisor on 9/14/09 that employee displayed the following symptoms: cough, fever (greater than100 degrees) body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.

Supervisor directed employee, “John, if you do not feel well tomorrow why don’t you stay home for a few days until you’re healthy.”

Employee scoffed at the idea claiming, “I’m not really sick. And even if I was ill, I practice safe hygienic practices. Even if I had the flu I wouldn’t spread it around the office. I like my fellow employees I don’t want to see them suffer with the swine flu.”


8:10 AM (video obtained)

Employee arrived driving a 2001 blue Toyota Corolla. In his vehicle he coughed and sneezed into his hands.

8:13 AM (video obtained)

Employee met mail carrier in parking lot and immediately shook his hand.
9:15 AM (video obtained)


Employee jumped up from his desk as if running to the restroom, sneezed into the open air and was observed laughing and saying to himself, “If I got it they are all going to get it.” Fellow employees left contaminated area and headed towards their supervisor’s office.
11:30 AM (video obtained)


Employee called into his supervisor’s office.


11:45 AM (video obtained)
Employee observed leaving supervisor’s office cursing in direction of his boss. He yelled, “You don’t know what your talking about! They are all a bunch of liars! I don’t spread germs. I am a hygienic person. I am going to see you in court, buddy. You are a big piece of coprolite.” Then he slammed supervisor’s door and yelled two expletives.

 12:15 PM (video obtained)

 Ex-employee observed leaving premises carrying a box of his possessions coughing and sneezing into his hands. Fellow employees stood, cheered and applauded as he left the premises. Investigator thought he heard one employee making oinking sounds.

 12:30 PM Surveillance terminated.

 DISCLAIMER: This story is a work of fiction, but is intended to convey an important message during an influenza pandemic.






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