News 11 Investigative Report: The Excuse Machine - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

News 11 Investigative Report: The Excuse Machine

This News 11 Investgative Report aired Thursday, November 15. Be sure to watch the video, which we'll post on Friday morning.

Looking to fool your boss, so you can get the day off? Admittedly, there some high tech new ways.

But if you get caught, losing your job might be just the beginning of your problems, reports News 11's Dan Bumpus.

Many employees treat their sick time like extra vacation days, and some people have discovered, you can now go online for fake doctor notes and funeral announcements that seem to make calling in sick -- a snap.

But beware -- you aren't just pulling a fast one on your boss. You are also breaking the law.

Still, ask almost anyone, and they'll probably admit to telling a tale so they could miss work.

"I've definitely called off before and said my cousin is sick, have to go take care of 'em," says Michael Yoder, a part-time worker.

"We're always looking to short cut. That's our nature of society today," says Professor Tom Deckelman, who teaches business classes at Owens Community College. He's used to hearing excuses, but he was shocked when we showed him what's now online.

There are dozens of websites geared exclusively to getting people out of work or school. For just a few dollars, people can download an official looking doctor's note, even a so-called death certificate or funeral notice.

The easier it is to miss work, the more people will do it. The effect on the economy is less productivity -- a problem passed on to us.

Yet, that may not be enough incentive for you to steer clear of excuse web sites. So maybe this is. By passing a fake document to your boss, you're also breaking the law!

"I think just advising them of the potential penalty would discourage them from this activity," says Jerry Phillips, a Toledo attorney.

Phillips says downloading a fake doctor's note, and turning it in as real could land you a hefty fine -- and maybe even put you behind bars.

"By using one of those fake excuses, you are committing a felony offense of forgery. Felony of the fifth degree. It carries from 6 to 12 months of prison time, and a $2,500 fine," Phillips says.

Think it sounds far-fetched? Think again. With companies now so bottom line based, they are cracking down on unnecessary absences by making examples out of the offenders.

"I think you will see a strong message by some employer sometimes, saying I'm not gonna put up with this anymore. This is where we draw the line. If you're caught with this, we will terminate you, and we will contact authorities to have prosecution filed against you," says Phillips.

You may have heard of HIPAA, the hospital rules designed to protect the privacy of patients. Some people try and make the argument that HIPAA would prevent a boss from following up on a suspicious doctor's note.

Well, that's not so. Legally a business can check up to see if you were where you say you were. They just can't ask about your specific condition.

Posted by KO

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