• Woman fired 3 days after giving birth files maternity leave dispute

    By: Natasha Chen

    Updated:

    TACOMA, Wash. - A woman working as a loan officer assistant was fired three days after giving birth to her child, because the birth came at the end of the six weeks of leave she had taken for medical complications during pregnancy.

    This policy violates state and federal laws, according to the woman’s attorney.

    (Photo illustration by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    Summer Rynning, whose daughter is now almost 3 years old, sued W.J. Bradley, her former company. But since W.J. Bradley has filed for bankruptcy, Rynning is now suing the individuals responsible for making the decision about her leave and her termination.

    Rynning got a call from her boss while she was still in the hospital and her daughter, London, was in neonatal intensive care.

    “It was three days after I had London. I had had a C-section. And they sent me a letter to say I was terminated,” she said.

    Because she lost her job, Rynning also lost all health benefits, a week after her child had been born.

    She said she remembered thinking, “What am I going to do when I walk out of the hospital with my baby?”

    The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to give people 12 weeks of leave for serious medical issues, including pregnancy and childbirth. Employees need to have worked at such a company for 12 months in order to qualify.

    Washington state has a similar Family Leave Act, with the same requirements for a 12-week leave.

    In addition, Washington state also has a law against discrimination, which includes requiring any business with eight or more employees to provide leave for a woman experiencing difficulties with complications related to her pregnancy, in addition to providing leave for recovery after childbirth.

    The exact amount of time provided is designated by a doctor.

    Rynning’s attorney, Katie Chamberlain, said a woman who has worked for a large employer for more than a year could qualify for the Family Leave Act and still receive additional pregnancy disability under the Washington state law against discrimination.

    “When you put those two things together, for an employee who’s entitled to both types of leave, because they’ve been there for more than a year -- and work for a large employer -- they’re actually entitled to at least 18 to 20 weeks of leave,” Rynning said.

    None of these laws specify whether an employer must pay the employee for the time away from work.

    KIRO 7 reached out to attorneys who represented W.J. Bradley, but has not gotten a response yet.

    KIRO 7 also reached out to the individual women who are accused of making the erroneous decisions on Rynning’s maternity leave. One of the women said she had not heard of the lawsuit yet.

    “A time in your life that’s supposed to be the most joyous time, turned into one of the most stressful times of my life,” Rynning said.

    She told KIRO 7 she hopes, at the very least, that her experience will help other women learn their rights and stand up for them. 

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