Woman Sues Patch.com for Worst Maternity Leave Ever

August 28, 2013  |  
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When a woman decides to have a baby, a big part of what affects the first few months of her baby’s life is the amount of time her job gives her off. Got good maternity leave? You can spend more time breastfeeding and bonding with your little one; it’s something families need. But one Minneapolis mom, whose pregnancy was complicated by Crohn’s Disease, literally gave birth and got an email the same day asking if she could work from her hospital bed. Obviously, she’s suing.

According to Pioneer News, the lawsuit Mary Vandergrift filed yesterday stated she gave birth to her healthy baby girl in July 2011, but her employer Patch didn’t make it easier. Her supervisor and the AOL-owned company was reluctant to give Vandergrift leave to go to the hospital, even taking money out of her paycheck. Her treatment, she says, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act and other laws that should’ve protected her.

When Vandergrift changed her position from full-time freelance journalist to Patch staff writer, she was sent to New York for training in January 2011. While on her training trip, she called her manager to tell him she’d gone to the emergency room with a virus and that she was also pregnant. She reportedly was told by her doctor to stop working, but Vandergrift’s manager asked her if she had her laptop with her and could continue working. She went against doctor’s orders and continued to work. Even as her condition worsened and she had to take short-term disability leave, Vandergrift was under pressure to keep working so that she could keep her job once she got back.

As her pregnancy progressed, doctors told the expecting mother that her pregnancy was high risk and that she needed to make weekly visits to the Mayo Clinic. According to the lawsuit, “his response was that he did not agree with her doctors, that there were plenty of good doctors in the Twin Cities, and that there was no need for her to go to Mayo.” Later at Patch, she was passed over for the job her supervisor promised her she would have, citing her illness as a reason.

Vandergrift, now eight months pregnant, was then told she needed to cover a storm-damaged neighborhood for her job. Because cars wouldn’t allow her through, she would have to walk. When she explained that to her supervisor, he told her she would lose her job if she didn’t but the adrenaline rush from fear of unemployment should keep her going. The next day she was rushed to hospital for extreme pain.

Patch and AOL are notorious for the bad way they treat their employees. Even the six weeks maternity leave Vandergrift was granted was tarnished when she later found out she couldn’t collect the bonus she’d earned because she’d had to go on disability earlier.

Did you have a bad maternity leave experience?

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