Friday, January 15, 2021

The 2nd nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the stillbirthing leave spurner

When I close out this contest at the end of each year I ask myself, "Jon, will you be able to find sufficiently awful nominees for the next year?" Each year answers this question with a resounding yes. 2021 is no exception.

I bring you the District of Columbia Public Schools, which denied maternity leave to a teacher after she suffered the tragedy of delivering a stillborn baby. 

I'm finding it hard to find words to describe my rage over this cold and callous mistreatment, so I'll instead turn it over to fill in the details:
At seven months pregnant, Elizabeth O'Donnell went from being an excited first-time mother to experiencing an unimaginable loss.

What she didn't realize is she would face even more heartache after she says her employer, District of Columbia Public Schools, refused her request for paid maternity leave as she needed time to recover from the delivery.

"I emailed saying my situation has changed and I would only need eight weeks for postpartum recovery," said O'Donnell. "They said I was no longer eligible for the paid family leave. It was shocking and hurtful."

O'Donnell says she requested time off to recover from complications she experienced during delivery. O'Donnell says she lost more than a liter of blood and experienced epidural complications.

"To think that I didn't walk out of George Washington University Hospital with my daughter, now all of the sudden it's like I didn't even have her," O'Donnell says.
The employer offered no comment in response to these allegations.

Ms. O'Donnell, however, has a lot to say.

If you deny a leave of absence to an employee who just suffered the tragic loss of a child during childbirth while she is medically recovering from that childbirth, you might be the worst employer of 2021.