An Olive Garden restaurant manager is out of a job for threatening workers for taking time off, saying those with illnesses or whose pets have died would “need to come prove it to us.”

Staff at the Olive Garden in Overland Park, Kansas, were recently reprimanded by their manager for calling off work at “a staggering rate,” and warned that no excuses of any sort would be tolerated in the future. 

“From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job,” the unidentified manager wrote in a message to all team members, according to a local CBS affiliate, KCTV5. “If you’re sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us.”

The unidentified manager described never missing a day of work in nearly a dozen years at Olive Garden, which operates more than 800 restaurants and is known for its unlimited bread sticks. 

“I came in sick. I got in a wreck literally on my way to work one time, airbags went off and my car was totaled, but you know what, I made it to work, ON TIME! There are no more excuses. Us, collectively as a management team have had enough. If you don’t want to work here, don’t,” the manager stated.

“We have parted ways”

Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and other dining chains including LongHorn Steakhouse, confirmed the message had been sent to employees and its author was no longer employed by the company. 

“We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members. This message is not aligned with our company’s values. We can confirm we have parted ways with this manager,” a spokesperson for the restaurant chain stated in an email on Friday to CBS MoneyWatch.

While experts including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention question the wisdom of going to work sick and possibly infecting others, the recent slew of sicknesses like RSV, COVID-19 and the flu has more workers staying at home, adding to the frustrations of operations already short on staff.

Parents are under particular pressure, with more than 100,000 Americans missing work in November after hitting a record level in October due to trouble with child care, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“If you can’t send your child to school, a lot of parents are stuck having to stay home with their child and that really takes a hit on people’s pocketbooks,” Dr. Celine Gounder told CBS News in November. 

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