This Redditor was slammed by the community after he fired a new mom who had just returned from her maternity leave, saying it’s only fair to hire the “cheaper” and “better” employee. Was he wrong?
A Generous Maternity Leave
OP (Original Poster) works in a company that offers a large amount of maternity leave—10 months!
He runs a team of six people, and one of his employees, Jess, recently got pregnant.
Taking on Her Responsibilities
His team does project-based work, and when Jess left, they were finishing up one of the projects they were assigned to do.
Then, they started another project without her.
Adjusting to the New Workload
Because they were down one person, OP’s team had to “adapt to working without her expertise in certain matters.”
However, they all did their best and eventually developed the skills they needed to do part of her workload.
Jess’s workload was split between three people: OP and two other colleagues. Then, they hired a temporary replacement to handle the other parts of Jess’s responsibilities.
The Same Work, Less Costs
The new employee they hired came at a “significantly reduced cost” since he had just graduated from university.
OP wrote, “We pay him a fraction of what Jess costs currently.”
When OP posted this story, Jess had just gotten back from her maternity leave. However, there’s now a new issue.
Out of the Blue
OP’s company suddenly informed him that they don’t have the capability of funding a seven-person team.
He wrote, “Our firm has informed us that for some f****** reason, we no longer have the budget for a seven-person team and will have to let someone go. This news came about when I submitted the paperwork for Jess’s return.”
In the Midst of Everything
OP and his team are currently 5 months into a project that should take them around 10 months to complete. So, the decision of who to let go came down to Jess and her supposedly temporary replacement.
He wrote, “The reason we hired a replacement, which is not normally what we do, is because we anticipated that for this project, the workload would be far greater than our current capacity, which it is not.”
Ultimately, OP decided to let go of Jess. He shared some of the reasons behind his decision in the post.
First, he said the new employee was “far cheaper,” thus freeing up much more money for the company than keeping Jess on. Another reason was that he was “up to date with the project,” so they could move forward seamlessly; OP said, “With Jess, we would have to take time catching her up to speed on half the project.”
Reasons or Excuses?
OP continued, sharing more of his “reasons” behind his decisions. He said, “She has been out of the field for a prolonged period while he has been here for the past nine months. So, she may or may not find it hard to adapt back to work life, while, with him, it isn’t a question.”
He also said that the new employee performed “better” than Jess, and he interacted better with the team.
The Ideal Situation
He explained that, in an ideal world, he wanted to keep both employees. He didn’t want to put a “new single mother with no job lined up out in the cold.”
Unfortunately, it is what it is, and OP had to “do right by the team and the firm.”
Trying to Appease Her
OP informed Jess about his decision and told her he’d write her a “brilliant letter of recommendation.” He also told her she could apply to their firm again after a few months, and “hopefully,” they’ll have the budget to hire.
However, for Jess, the damage had been done. She declined OP’s offer and snapped at him, telling him “not to bother.”
Jess also called OP a “c***” before leaving. OP wrote, “I know I sound cold and heartless, but I had to be fair to both employees, not just Jess, right? Am I the a**hole?”
The Community’s Reactions
For users, OP is clearly the one in the wrong. More than that, what he did was illegal, and he should start preparing for a lawsuit.
A top commenter wrote, “You’re the a**hole. Every single reason you mentioned was only true because she had been gone on maternity leave which legally cannot be a reason to terminate someone. Yet it is the cause behind everyone reason you gave. Be prepared for a lawsuit.”
Another said, “‘So I fired her because, one, she had a baby. Two, she had a baby. Three, she had a baby. Am I the a**hole?’ You’re the a**hole, OP!”
This Is So Wrong
People also pointed out that OP “punished” Jess for a benefit their company offered, and there’s no way for him to justify his actions.
“So you penalized her for using a benefit that your company offers. How is this fair to everyone? Does this inspire your other employees to trust you? I wouldn’t trust you. If I were one of the remaining employees, I would be looking for another boss as soon as possible,” said one user.
Another Redditor commented, “OP somehow firmly believes he is free and clear of all legal ramifications, and while I haven’t seen what country they are in, I have a hard time believing after all his comments, he can prove he fired her above board. Not to mention, he says more than once how no one was even remotely qualified to fill Jess’s shoes and perform her role to the same extent she did. He says it took three people to take on her job. How can you justify firing her for anything but punishment for using a benefit her own company provides?”
What do you think of what OP did? Should he be sued for firing Jess so suddenly?
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This post first appeared as A Boss Fired a New Single Mom Who’d Just Returned From Maternity Leave and Offered the Position to Her “Temporary” Replacement Since He’s “Cheaper” and “Better.” He’s a “Heartless” Jerk! on Quote Ambition.