New Years Day was more memorable than most for Lamar Austin.
The 30-year-old from Concord, New Hampshire, found out his wife, Lindsay, was going into labour on 31 December. He was by her side when she gave birth to their son, Cainan, the first child born in Concord in 2017.
Lamar, who served in the US army for three and a half years as an ammunition specialist, had to take two days off work from his job as a part-time security guard with Salerno Protective Services.
He was on a 90 day trial period, having signed up recently, and during this time he had not missed a shift and had covered for other people's.
He told his boss he couldn't come in for obvious reasons, as he relayed to the Concord Monitor:
I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to miss work or something.
The second day I told my boss, ‘My wife is still in labour,’ and he just said, ‘You’re forcing my hand, if you aren’t in work by 8 tomorrow we are going to terminate you.’
At 1am on New Years Day, while his wife was in labour, he received a text (part of a group message) that read:
As of now, you are terminated.
Austin's response was to look at priorities:
I just responded ‘ok,’.
I was in the hospital, it was a long night, and I wasn’t trying to argue with nobody about a job while my wife was in labour.
His employer was at rights to take the action they chose to as New Hampshire is an "at-will employment" state - Austin has little in the way of legal protection.
Thankfully, the public has come to his aid.
Sara Persechino is former board member for the town and advocates family leave. She read Austin's story and was moved:
I don’t think anyone should ever have to choose between their family and their job.
She set up a GoFundMe page to encourage people to donate to the Austin's while they enjoy time with their newborn son.
Austin told the Huffington Post he's received many job offers since and will be pursuing an application for an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
On the other hand, Salerno Protective Services may not want to look at their reviews on Google for a while.