This is Behind the Blog, where we share our behind-the-scenes thoughts about how a few of our top stories of the week came together. This week, we discuss a groundbreaking investigation into Labcorp labor issues, the role of court records in our reporting, how "brand safety" has doomed the news industry, and the demise of a controversial website.
EMANUEL: This week’s Labcorp story started with an observation by my wife. We’ve both had testing done by the company plenty of times over the years without thinking about it, but a few months ago she had to spend a lot of time at one of their locations for a gestational diabetes test. Unlike other tests, where you get your blood drawn or pee in a cup and not think about it again until you get the results, a gestational diabetes test requires you to get your blood drawn multiple times over the course of several hours. It’s a long and shitty thing to do, but it also gives you the rare pleasure of spending a significant amount of time at a Labcorp location, if that’s where you’re getting it done.
A few days prior to her test, we were at another Labcorp location and were both surprised that there was no one at a front desk to talk to, but rather just an automated kiosk. As she sat there for her test, she noticed the workers were very rushed, and several people she talked to said they didn’t have time for their breaks. It occurred to me that whenever I spent time at a Labcorp location, or interacted with a Labcorp employee, the vibe was just off, like when you’re at a store or restaurant and you realize the staff is having a very bad day.
I don’t remember what I searched for exactly, but I Googled around and immediately found a community of lab workers online, and they all had the same complaints: long hours, no breaks, mandatory overtime, and concern about working conditions impacting the quality of testing and patient care.