The Boss’s Attitude – Working Ladies’ Dilemma

“My name is Haley, and I’m from a bit of town in Alabama just north of Huntsville. I married my high school sweetheart five years ago.

Courtesy of Haley Gentle

I was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 21 and told, “You will most likely never have children of your own.” But, oh, yes, I did. I gave birth to a lovely baby boy. I thought he was a once-in-a-lifetime miracle.

Courtesy of Haley Gentle
Courtesy of Haley Gentle

I started having medical problems in late June and went to see an OBGYN to find out what was wrong. ‘You’re 13 weeks pregnant!’ they stated as the test results returned. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was giddy with delight. I had a party with my friends, family, and coworkers. My superiors, the company’s owners, were ecstatic.

I worked at a small medical institution in Huntsville for eight months when I found out I was pregnant. Everyone at work was happy and eagerly awaiting the arrival of my baby. To me, the proprietors were like family. They even gave me a car seat as a gift. The first few months of the pregnancy were very uneventful. It was till it wasn’t.

Courtesy of Haley Gentle

I started having problems with my blood pressure later in my pregnancy. As a result, I decided to take maternity leave earlier than planned to satisfy my medical needs and guarantee the health of my unborn child. Due to the minor nature of the organisation, I was forced to take unpaid leave.

January 2 was the final day I worked. I was having many problems, so the doctor advised me to stay at home until the baby was born. I planned to return six weeks after giving birth.

Reagan Claire Gentle was born on January 10, 2019, at 3:15 p.m. and weighed exactly 7 pounds. We were overjoyed and brought her home. She was a fantastic addition to our small family.

Courtesy of Haley Gentle

During my maternity leave, I sent the company owners charming images of my family to my coworkers, family, and friends. They all responded enthusiastically and with words of support. Everything appeared to be in order.

Courtesy of Haley Gentle
Courtesy of Haley Gentle
Courtesy of Haley Gentle
Courtesy of Haley Gentle

Returning to work is not something a new mother desires. Who wants to abandon their gorgeous new baby? But, alas, we were a family with debts to pay. It was impossible to stay at home.

I went to my postpartum appointment on February 27, 2019, expecting to be cleared to return to work. ‘You have certain medical difficulties and will need physical treatment,’ I was told. Return in two weeks.’ A husband and couple owned the company where I worked. I called my wife right away to inform her that I would be returning to work two weeks later than scheduled.

‘We’ll be in contact shortly,’ I received a quick text message. The owner sent me a PDF text message the following day. ‘If you do not return to work by Wednesday, March 6, 2019, this company will terminate your employment.’ The message went on to say that my absence was putting a hardship on the organisation.

I checked into the Family and Medical Leave Act to see my options, but because the company had fewer than 50 employees, I wasn’t covered. As a result, I disobeyed my doctor’s orders. This employment was critical to my family’s survival. ‘I understand you need me, and I enjoy this job,’ I informed the owner. ‘I’ll be there,’ she says. Then things started to change.

I sent another mail to the owner. ‘Hey, by the way, I’ll need to bring a hands-free gadget to work because I’ve decided to nurse my child.’ I won’t be able to work because of that. I’ll be able to do it at my desk.’ My workstation was in a separate room away from the patients. There was just one other employee in the room with me, and they said it was okay if I used my breast pump.

‘During my shift, I just need to use it twice: once at my desk and once during my lunch break.’ I wasn’t requesting permission. I was letting him know. ‘I have an issue with you are pumping at work,’ I received a message less than ten minutes later. I’d have to allow for them what I allow for you.’

In shock, I immediately began researching my rights as a breastfeeding mother. I’d been nursing my first child for 18 months and pumping at the same time. Was he serious when he said I couldn’t pump?! Anyone who has ever served knows that you must pump every 2-3 hours or when your baby would normally eat. His response left me speechless. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do.

At this point, feeding my infant formula was no longer an option. I breastfed my son for 18 months and expected to breastfeed my baby daughter until she turned one. My mind began to race with ideas. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. This job is essential to me! I’m no longer able to eat infant formula!

What’s more, why would I pay for something I already have? How could he say something like that to me? Is this his first time meeting a pregnant woman?

I knew I needed that job, but I knew something had to give. So I completed my homework. Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act didn’t cover me, I was still protected. Companies with fewer than 50 employees had to request an exemption to the regulation and demonstrate that a nursing mother pumping causes them “undue hardship.” Pumping was permitted until they applied for an exemption.

So, if my boss wouldn’t let me pump at my desk on the clock, I wrote him a letter requesting reasonable accommodations. ‘I am happy to take two unpaid 20-minute breaks,’ I stated. On Monday, March 4, I sent it to him by text message. ‘Your job at this company is ended!’ he said forty minutes later.

I was seven weeks postpartum when I learned that I might lose my job due to a natural choice. I made this decision to feed my newborn baby child. What do you think? I felt both heartbroken and perplexed.

I applied to 47 jobs in less than 24 hours following that. I had four job interviews and received multiple employment offers. Fortunately, I could secure a position where breastfeeding mothers are welcomed with open arms. I now have a place where I can pump whenever I want. This is something that EVERY mother should go through.

I received texts from both proprietors at my prior employment two days after I was fired. ‘Would you like to sit and talk?’ ‘Perhaps we can work something out for you.’ Do you mean after I was fired? ‘Why would I work for someone who made it plain that they didn’t support breastfeeding mothers?’ I reasoned.

It hit me like a tonne of bricks one night while I was nursing Reagan to sleep that my tale was profound. I was dismissed for doing something that seemed very natural for doing something that ladies did daily. I was dismissed for making the best decision I could for my family.

No mother should ever be fired for choosing between nursing and formula feeding. I want to speak up for all nursing mothers. After hearing my tale, I’m hoping that the legislation will change eventually!”

Courtesy of Haley Gentle

Is there someone you know who could benefit from this storey? SHARE this storey with your friends and family on Facebook.

Facebook Comments