The last day I went to work was January 2. I was having a lot of issues and the doctor told me, ‘You need to stay home until this baby is born.’ I planned to return 6 weeks postpartum.
On January 10, 2019, Reagan Claire Gentle entered the world at 3:15 p.m. and weighed 7 pounds even. Overjoyed, we brought her home. She was the perfect addition to our little family.
Throughout the weeks of my maternity leave, I sent adorable photos of my family to the owners of the company I worked for. To my coworkers, friends, and family. They all replied with enthusiasm and words of encouragement. Things seemed perfectly okay.
Going back to work isn’t something a new mom wants to do. Who wants to leave their adorable little newborn? But we were a family and, alas, we had bills to pay. Staying home just wasn’t an option.
On February 27, 2019, I went to my postpartum checkup anticipating I would be released to return to work. I was told, ‘You have some medical issues and will need physical therapy. Come back in 2 weeks.’ The company I worked for was owned by a husband and wife. Immediately, I contacted the wife to let her know that I would be returning to work 2 weeks later than expected.
I received a short text message that said, ‘We’ll be in contact shortly.’ The next morning, I received a PDF text message from the owner. ‘You need to return to work by Wednesday, March 6, 2019 or you will no longer be employed by this company.’ The message went on to state that my continued absence was straining the company.
I looked into the Family and Medical Leave Act to see what my rights were, but I wasn’t protected by it because the company had fewer than 50 employees. So, I ignored my doctor’s orders. I needed this job; it was crucial to my family. I told the owner, ‘I understand that you need me and I love this job. I’ll be there.’ Then things began to take a turn.