For those who did not read the original story, “Concord’s First Baby Of The Year Highlights The Need For Paid Sick And Family Leave,” it was the story of Lamar Austin who was terminated on New Years Day for choosing to be with his wife as she delivered their child.
The Concord Monitor did a follow up story on Lamar this morning: “Companies can fire employees for most reasons, including missing a shift due to birth of baby boy.”
The follow up story sheds a lot of light on Lamar’s situation and in my personal opinion it does not make his termination any better.
Lamar was a “probationary” employee with Salerno Protective Services and was only hired a month ago for a 90 day trial. The trial for the part-time security job required Lamar to be on-call 24/7. How bad are our labor laws that a person can be “on call” 24/7 for 90 days and still be classified as a “part time” employee? But that is a completely different issue.
As part of their mission statement posted on the front page of their website, Salerno states:
“We will make a very strong commitment to our people, as they are ultimately responsible for our success. We seek to create and maintain an environment where every employee is rewarded according to their contribution to the success of our collective efforts.”
Yes, the company that just fired a man for being there for his wife while she delivered their child, boasts about how they are “committed” to their people.
Lamar missed work on Friday and Saturday because his wife was in labor, and at 1 am on New Years Day he received the group text from his employer that he was terminated.
Andru Volinsky, a lawyer and the Concord area’s next Executive Councilor told the Monitor it may be legal to fire Lamar, but not humane:
“Legal niceties aside, this company could have acted more humanely.”
Supporting employees is the “cost of running a good business,” Volinsky said. However, that support doesn’t often come willingly from employers.
“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 story also talks about Lamar’s time in the Army, a few of his other jobs, and how he still relies on support from his church and local charity groups. Might have something to do with the NH’s low minimum wage, but again I digress.
This update really shows how horrible some of the state’s labor laws are. Being an “at will” state means that you can pretty much be fired for anything, at anytime, with no recourse. When added with the fact that NH does not require any paid sick or family leave, if you choose to stay home with a sick child, that could be your last day of work. The system is rigged for the benefit of the employer without any regard for the workers.
Lamar said would like a job in the “trades,” possibly an electrician. Hopefully he finds his way to IBEW 490 in Concord and puts in for an apprenticeship. I hope Lamar also looks into the Helmets to Hardhats program that helps Veterans find work in the building trades.
I truly hope that Lamar finds a better job now that hundreds if thousands of people are talking about his story.