When Emily Manley met her newborn baby, it was the happiest moment of her life. And life was good. She was on unpaid maternity leave from her job and able to spend a lot of time with her newborn. But then an opportunity came into her life that she could not ignore. Another company poached Manley from her current employer, giving her an enticing offer, so Manley took the new job and gave her two-week notice to her current employer.
Manley thought she was making a wise financial decision for her family. But then her former employer sent her a bill in the mail for $3,000 because she abandoned ship while on maternity leave.
The new job gave Manley a much better lifestyle fit that would help the Iowa mom balance her career and three-month-old son Jettson. In an interview with WHO-TV, Manley explained how things happened and what she did when her former employer slapped her with a multi-thousand dollar bill for changing jobs while on unpaid maternity leave.
“It just offered some different benefits that would work better for having a little one,” Manley said. “It’s a company I worked with before.”
While the new job was enticing, the bill from her former employer was a shock. It totaled more than $2,600, which would cover the healthcare costs and paid time off she had been forced to use during her maternity leave. The company was not holding back punches and was willing to take this case to the supreme court if they needed to. They needed that cash.
“It was kind of a shock. I wasn’t prepared for it,” she told the station. “I wasn’t ready for it, but I knew it was a possibility. I didn’t know it would happen that fast and that I would have to pay it back that fast.”
Because her former employer failed to offer paid maternity leave, Manley was forced to use the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, which entitled her to 12 weeks of leave during the year. To qualify for the federal program, she first had to use all her paid time off that she’d accumulated with the company.
That’s what she did. She took her vacation time and then went onto FMLA leave in February. At that time, she was offered a new job, which was a much better situation for her growing family. She took it and then her previous employer, bitter and betrayed, slapped her with the bill.
“It’s a lot of money for us. We did our best to save when we got pregnant, knowing that we had bills coming and did our best for that, but it’s kind of hard to prepare,” she told WHO-TV. “I can understand the company’s point of view, but at the same time, to do that to a young family is really difficult to be on the other side of it.”
Although Manley wanted to sue her previous company, a lawyer said it would cost more in legal fees than to simply pay the bill. So that’s what she did. The employer won.
“I’m not here to ask for money or give a poor me story, I am sharing my story in hopes if other women are out there on leave and looking for a new job, and don’t think that their company would do this — they might!” Manley told WHO-TV. “Having a child really makes you think about your job, what’s important in life and what you want out of a job. In the end, I’m glad I switched and now work for a wonderful company that respects me as a mother and employee.”
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