Cainan Austin was born at Concord Hospital at 7:44 AM, New Year’s day 2017. He was the first child born in Concord in 2017, and his father may have been the first person fired.
30-year-old Lamar Austin, an Army veteran now working as a security guard, was fired from his job with Salerno Protective Services after his wife Lindsay went into an extended labor. Austin called in to inform his employer that he wouldn’t be able to make his shift since his wife was about to give birth to their first child at any moment.
“I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to miss work or something,” Austin told the Concord Monitor. “The second day I told my boss, ‘My wife is still in labor,’ and he just said, ‘You’re forcing my hand, if you aren’t in work by 8 tomorrow we are going to terminate you.’ ”
Austin was a month into his 3-month trial period as a part-time security guard, a job that required him to be on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Until his son’s birth, Austin had never been so much as late, let alone absent for a shift. At 1:00 AM on New Year’s day, Austin received the following text, “As of now, you are terminated.”
“I just responded ‘ok,’ ” he told the Monitor. “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 labor.”
— Ella Nilsen (@ella_nilsen) January 4, 2017
New Hampshire is an “at-will employment” state, and employees have little to no protection if their employer wants to let them go for nearly any reason. While it may seem terribly cruel to fire a man on the day of his son’s birth, Salerno Protective Services hasn’t actually done anything illegal.
“Legal niceties aside, this company could have acted more humanely,” Andru Volinksy, a lawyer in New Hampshire, told the Monitor. “We’ve seen over the years that there are many good employers that act fairly and some that act unfairly, but it’s only when the employees are organized and act collectively that they are able to negotiate for protections that include paid family leave.”
When asked about what comes next, Austin told the Monitor, “It’s been tough, but God has always provided for me when I needed it. Some kind of help always came in the strangest forms.”