No Compassion at Work for Struggling Mom

     BOSTON (CN) – Capping off her ordeal trying to get maternity benefits for the birth of her surrogate twins, a woman claims in Federal Court that Verizon fired her after her babies died.
     For almost two decades the plaintiff worked for MCI and then its eventual parent company, Verizon, until her attempts to become a mother snowballed into an almost-two-year-long, heart-wrenching saga. Courthouse News has redacted the senior client executive’s name because of the sensitive nature of her Sept. 9 lawsuit.
     She claims she was unable to get pregnant because doctors removed her uterus as she battled cervical cancer.
     Using a sperm donor, her own harvested eggs and her sister-in-law as gestational carrier, the plaintiff says she alerted Verizon in early 2013 that she would soon be the mother of twins.
     That November, the babies were born prematurely in North Carolina via caesarean section at 28 weeks. One suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and died the next day, and the other, Jude, was soon diagnosed with infantile fibril sarcoma. He died in May 2014.
     Although Verizon’s website promotes that “Verizon offers new mothers time off so they can bond with their new child, whether that child joins the family through birth or adoption,” the plaintiff says Verizon would not offer her paid maternity leave because she was using a gestational carrier.
     Verizon also claims to offer up to $10,000 in expense coverage for parents who adopt, but the plaintiff was told she would not be eligible for that because she would be gaining custody of her biological children through a consent order rather than through the adoption process, according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff says she instead followed instructions to apply for unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. In February 2014, weeks before that medical leave was scheduled to run out, Verizon allegedly demoted the woman to a position with fewer opportunities for sales commissions.
     Having exhausted her vacation and sick-time benefits, the plaintiff applied for short-term disability in February so that she could continue caring for Jude, according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff says she was still suffering from depression and emotional trauma of her loss when her short-term disability benefits were running out in August 2014.
     A Verizon human resources employee allegedly advised the plaintiff to apply for long-term disability and return to work in early 2015. The plaintiff says her long-term disability was approved on Sept. 7, retroactive to Aug. 25, but she received a termination letter from Verizon on Sept. 9.
     Claiming that she remains unemployed, the plaintiff seeks punitive damages for discrimination and violations of the Family Medical Leave Act.
     She is represented by Nancy Cremins of Gesmer Updegrove.
     Verizon has not returned a request for comment.

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