A Concord, New Hampshire, man got the shock of his life after his baby was born — in a way that nobody expected.
Lamar Austin missed work after his wife went into labor to give birth to their son. He was just starting a part-time position as a security guard and was on a probationary period, meaning he’d be on call 24 hours a day, every day.
Austin missed one of his shifts a month before the birth so he could take his wife to a doctor’s appointment, so he was nervous when his wife went into labor because it forced him to miss two additional shifts.
Sure enough, Austin got a text from his employer on New Year’s Day that informed him he’d been terminated.
On the first day of labor, he informed his boss that he wouldn’t be able to make it. When it extended to a second day, he called into work one more time.
“I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to miss work or something,” Austin told the Concord Monitor of the conversation he had with his boss. “The second day I told my boss, ‘My wife is still in labor,’ and he just said, ‘You’re forcing my hand, if you aren’t in work by 8 tomorrow we are going to terminate you.’”
When he got the text saying he’d been fired, Austin decided not to put up a fight.
“I just responded ‘ok,’” he said. “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.”
Lawyer Andru Volinksy told the Monitor that the company was within its rights to terminate Austin because of the fact that he was on probation.
“Legal niceties aside, this company could have acted more humanely,” he said. “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.”
The company declined to comment on the matter, but Austin received significant support from the local community after his story circulated. Denis Beaudoin, a business manager with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Concord, offered Austin an apprenticeship after hearing about his troubles.
“I know how valuable family time is, and if you’re a union member we incorporate that, we understand that, and we don’t penalize you for that,” he said. Other community members reached out in different ways, with one woman even setting up a fundraiser to support Austin and his family.
“I’m thanking God for delivering one of the many promises,” Austin said of the support he received.