A man from Concord, New Hampshire received an unexpected call that left him stunned. It came after his wife gave birth to their baby. And he had never expected to hear what they revealed to him.After his wife went into labor, Lamar Austin called out of work to help her in the hospital. He rushed over to participate in the birth of their son. Because he had just started a new job as a part-time security job – and was on a probationary period – calling out, even for the birth of his son, was frowned upon by his boss. And during that probationary period, the company subjected Austin to a 24/7 on-call policy that left him exhausted and constantly on edge.
One month before his son was born, he had to miss one of his shifts when his wife needed to go to the doctor for an appointment. So when his wife started to go into labor, Austin was nervous about the birth, but also because he knew his heartless boss would not care to hear his reason for missing hours on the job.
After the birth of his son, Austin was overjoyed. But in the back of his mind, he knew he might get a talk from his boss because he had been forced to miss two of his shifts.
On New Year’s Day, Austin received a text message from his employer telling him that he had been fired.
Although Austin had been transparent about what was happening, his employer had no sympathy for the new father. He told his boss that his wife was going into labor. And when her labor lasted longer than expected, he had to call out of work the second day.
“I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to miss work or something,” Austin told the Concord Monitor. “The second day I told my boss, ‘My wife is still in labor. He just said, ‘You’re forcing my hand, if you aren’t at work by 8 tomorrow we are going to terminate you.’”
Austin was stunned. Then his boss proved to be true to his word. The next day he received a text from his boss terminating his employment.
“I just responded, ‘ok.’ I was in the hospital. It was a long night, and I wasn’t trying to argue with nobody about a job while my wife was in labor.”
The company consulted lawyer, Andru Volinsky, who confirmed the company’s right to fire Austin because he missed work due to his wife being in labor. Because he had been on a probationary period, the company could fire him for any infraction.
“Legal niceties aside, this company could have acted more humanely. We’ve seen over the years that there are many good employers that act fairly and some that act unfairly. But it’s only when the employees are organized and act collectively that they are able to negotiate for protections that include paid family leave,” Volinsky said.
Although his company abandoned him, his community offered their support. One woman created a fundraiser to help the new dad.
“I’m thanking God for delivering one of the many promises,” Austin concluded.