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relates to Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk

Photo illustration: 731; Photo: Getty Images

Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk

Employees say the biggest names in American business have banned them from alerting others to coronavirus outbreaks.

Lindsay Ruck was just starting her Father’s Day brunch shift at the Cheesecake Factory in Chandler, Ariz., when her boss told her a co-worker had Covid-19. In between making bloody marys, Ruck shared the news with several of her colleagues, who’d been worrying about such a moment since the restaurant reopened the month before. At the end of Ruck’s shift, when she went to the back office to count her cash, her boss and another supervisor were waiting.

Her boss, the general manager, told her she wasn’t allowed to mention the coronavirus case to anyone, including fellow staff. The company was informing only the people who’d worked during the sick employee’s last shift, and, per Cheesecake higher-ups, even the information that any worker had tested positive was deemed private, Ruck recalls. Realizing she could be among those kept in the dark about the next sick colleague, she filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and took a couple of weeks off while awaiting the results of a Covid test and weighing whether to keep working there. After getting a negative test result, she returned to the restaurant, in need of the paycheck.