No expecting mom should have to worry about choosing between her job and her own baby, but unfortunately, that’s the situation one woman found herself in last year.
When Ashley Ruiz-Lopez, a receptionist at the Omni Baking Company of Bellmawr and Vineland in New Jersey, let the company know that she’d be going on maternity leave in January 2016, she thought everything was fine. She’d given notice about when she’d be leaving and the date of her return, and dropped off a claim for temporary disability benefits at the bakery. She even included a note from her doctor, which listed her due date as February 27 and her return date in April. Still, she was unceremoniously fired at the end of March.
Ruiz-Lopez gave birth via cesarean section in February. She let the business know shortly after and dropped off a more specific doctor’s note about her return date, which was supposed to be April 17.
After not hearing from the company, she tried contacting its human resources manager in person and on the phone multiple times, all to no avail. Then she was fired from the bakery on March 29. That’s when she filed a complaint with the Division of Civil Rights.
Omni claimed she hadn’t officially requested leave under the New Jersey Family Medical Leave Act, but the Division of Civil Rights found that she didn’t have to fill out a specific form or even mention the act. All she needed to do was “provide sufficient information to alert it that the worker plans to take time off for a purpose covered by the law,” which she did.