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The Justice Department is prosecuting a case of alleged phony corony.

Employees, if you need to make up a story to get out of working, you might want to try something other than a fake case of COVID-19.

The Atlanta Office of the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a criminal complaint against a man who allegedly falsely told his employer that he had COVID-19, and then sent a phony doctor’s note to the employer.

According to the affidavit in support of the DOJ complaint, the employer had to shut down to have the facility sanitized, and had to send home at least four other workers who had been in close contact with the alleged miscreant — with full pay, for 14 days. These actions cost the employer more than $100,000.

If the allegations are true, then the employer deserves legal recourse. But you may wonder how the U.S. government determined that this was a federal crime.

Well, it turns out that the doctor’s note was sent to the employer via email. The employee and his worksite were in the State of Georgia, but the email was transmitted through servers in Iowa and Kansas before getting to the employer’s headquarters in Pennsylvania. Therefore, interstate wire fraud!

Moral of the story: Next time you want to lay out of work, claim to have a bad cold. And you may want to ask a family member to hand-deliver your fake doctor’s note.

Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.

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