When Jessica, a freelancer at a large advertising company in New York, was seven months pregnant, she notified her employer that she intended to take paid family leave upon giving birth and was given instructions on how to apply. But after her child was born, she was stunned to learn that she had been terminated from her job, and was therefore ineligible to receive New York paid family leave benefits.
“The date of my termination was cited as the day before my son was born, when I was in the hospital, in labor…Instead of any reaction of concern, or interest in helping me solve the issue, I was simply told that I was ineligible for company benefits because I was a freelancer,” Jessica said. “It made me feel like I had done something wrong in arranging my leave.”
Given no explanation, and misled by her employer to believe that her freelancer title meant she was not eligible to receive any paid family leave benefits, Jessica reached out to ABB’s free and confidential legal helpline. We helped her understand her legal protections, including her right not to be terminated because she took leave under New York’s paid family leave law, and we coached her on how she could advocate for herself to her employer.
After citing information that we shared with her about the law, Jessica was promptly reinstated to her job. With her employee status reactivated, she was able to receive the New York paid leave benefits she should have been entitled to all along.
“This experience, while frustrating, has a happy ending. It was a great example that we should trust ourselves, especially when we know we’ve taken the steps to protect ourselves. And also, that instead of doubt, leading to shame, leading to silence where we miss out on opportunity we have earned, we should ask for help. I’m so appreciative that the help was there.”