Sick Day Protests

Elementary school teachers in Glendale, Arizona have planned a sick out today to protest their low pay, according to news reports.  Calling out sick will be easy enough for the teachers. Arizona’s recently enacted PSL law, like all others, adopts a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to call-outs. The employee need not tell the employer anything beyond “I am sick and cannot come to work” and the employer may not ask for any information beyond that.  According to one report, however, some teachers may spend their sick day protesting at the Capital, which may cause some to question whether they are using that sick day for an authorized purpose.

The Glendale teachers are not alone in  calling out sick as a means of protest. Teachers in Prince George’s County, Maryland had planned a system-wide sick out for this past Monday to protest some central office employees receiving “secret” wage increases, according to reports. Ultimately, the teachers decided not to have their system-wide sick out though some classes in some schools were cancelled due to teacher absences. Instead of the general sick-out, teachers favored a “work to rule”protest.

Both of these situations illustrate how far we have come from the justification for sick days—that an employee should not have to choose between his/her or a family member’s health and a paycheck. Apparently, an  employee should not have to choose between a protest and a paycheck either!