Many people want to work. Unfortunately, life sometimes has other plans, gifting us severe medical conditions that make our line of work impossible.
A decent manager would try to work with a good employee and legally must consider reasonable accommodations under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
As we know all too well, not all managers are decent, and the ADA doesn’t apply to independent contractors.
Resigning Due To Disability
One user came to Reddit seeking advice after a baffling interaction with their manager when attempting to resign.
The Original Poster (OP) developed chronic carpal tunnel syndrome, which made their typing job painful and nearly impossible. They’ve been contracting with the same company for about eight years and revealed they recently had surgery to correct the problem, but it didn’t help as much as they had hoped.
As their position requires a lot of typing and editing, they decided resigning was the best course of action for their health.
Manager Flips Out
The manager did not respond well to the resignation notice. After a paragraph of fake concern, she wrote a diatribe about professionalism and the importance of following through with a contract.
She insisted the contractor finish out the fifty+ letters pending in their queue and that they provide a 30-day notice in accordance with the contract terms.
“I surely do not want you to re-injury yourself or be in pain, but I know for a fact, that the Letters do not require a lot of typing,” wrote the manager, adding, “You are young and creative, and I believe you can find a way to successfully carry out this duty without incident… and without excuses.”
The manager included vague threats in the letter, implying they’d give a poor reference and withhold the last paycheck if they didn’t follow through with her demands.
The OP quit anyway, even if they withhold the last check. It’s not worth the extra pain. However, they do have an ace up their sleeve about proper employee categorization that they’ll pursue.
Get a Note
Reddit users said OP should use malicious compliance. Why not give a 30-day notice, then get a doctor’s note saying they can’t type or use a mouse?
Independent Contractors don’t typically get paid for sick days, but if they do this, they’ll technically be following the letter of their contract.
Entitled To Compensation
Others pointed out that the vague threat of withholding the last paycheck is illegal. Any worker, from hourly to salary to contractor, must be compensated for their work.
If the company doesn’t pay up, OP is within their rights to pursue legal action. It’s a little more complicated as an independent contractor, but they would have a case.
The crux of the issue is a toxic manager. No decent human being would expect someone to do work that literally causes them pain. A good manager would find ways to work with an employee to give them the support they need. Perhaps this means finding work they can do or offering to write a glowing reference if a reasonable accommodation isn’t possible.
Vague threats aren’t the answer.
Toxic Managers Abound
Unfortunately, OP’s situation is far too common. People lack empathy for their workers, and managers only care about the bottom line.
The idea that workers are merely pawns in the never-ending quest for profits is pervasive. Companies that realize their workers are their most important aspects and treat them like the human beings they are tend to do better in the long run, but most managers are too short-sighted to see it.
Hopefully, the culture will shift, and we’ll treat employees with the respect they deserve.