Floppies are notoriously unreliable. CD-RW's are better, but not substantially so. Flash drives may actually be relatively reliable, and I've heard of them being sold for as little $10 apiece for a small one. I ran a linux program called "dd_rescue" on your coworker's floppy. It doesn't place any interpretation on the data stored on the physical blocks of the floppy - it only tries to read the physical blocks and copy them somewhere. But even this program was unable to read the data, which means the floppy has physical problems, not just data format corruption. To get back data from a floppy with unreadable blocks, like in this case: 1) Some people will pop the floppy into a freezer bag, and get it good and cold. This makes the distances between the blocks shrink slightly, which sometimes renders an otherwise unreable floppy readable again. The freezer bag is to prevent ice crystals from forming on the floppy, which could cause problems due to the resulting mineral deposits known as "water spots". 2) Some people will hold the little door open, and spin the floppy, while holding a vaccuum cleaner near the exposed portion of the media, to remove any stray particles inside the floppy disk that might be causing problems. Another alternative is to just blow on the floppy with the little door open, but this can lead to a different kind of mishap. :) 3) Often, a floppy will go bad because it was written from a floppy drive with bad alignment. If this is the case, then you may be able to take the floppy back to the drive on which it was written, to read the data on it 4) There are presumably data recovery shops on the internet that will see what they can do for you. Most if not all of them are more focused on hard disks or tapes, but they may do floppies as well. But this can get expensive. I'd probably try #3 first, then #2, then #1, and finally, if you -really- need the data badly, check pricing on #4.
Linux floppy format program: superformat. fdformat is "considered obsolete".
Software to drive a floppy controller that can read many different kinds of physical floppy formats http://tim-mann.org/catweasel.html