Lying About Having COVID-19: A Cautionary Tale

Have you ever lied about being under the weather to score some time off? I assume that is what Mr. Santwon Antonio Davis was thinking when he falsely informed his employer he had tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately for Mr. Davis, his fib landed him in some really hot water. Well, boiling water, actually. You see, the U.S. Attorney has filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Davis.

According to the complaint, Mr. Davis informed his employer he had tested positive for COVID-19. The employer requested a copy of Mr. Davis’s positive test result. Rather than providing the results (which we now know he could not), Mr. Davis emailed (this becomes important later, trust me) his employer an old-school doctor’s note. It didn’t take the employer long to deduce the note was a fraud. One big tipoff was probably his date of discharge, which was dated November of last year and didn’t make any mention of COVID-19.

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By the time the employer discovered the note was a fake; however, it had closed for one full day to conduct a thorough cleaning and ordered four employees quarantined. Prosecutors estimate the prank caused the employer over losses of at least $100,000. Because Mr. Davis used his email (see, I told you), he now faces charges of wire fraud.

I expect the feds will be cracking down on employees who lie about having COVID-19. And rightfully so, employers have experienced tremendous loss in the face of this pandemic trying to comply an ever-changing landscape of guidance. The last thing an employer needs is an employee submitting false documents. Not only does it result in substantial economic losses, it can potentially disrupt the workforce.

I will be watching this case to see what happens from here. And for those needing a day off, just say you have a cold, ok?