Woman Claims Verizon Fired Her For Taking Leave To Care For Her Dying Babies

Photo: B Christopher / Alamy Stock Photo.
It's a stark reality that working mothers still face brutal discrimination in the workplace in 2015, but this has to be one of the worst cases yet. The Daily Beast reports that a woman in New Jersey is suing Verizon for allegedly denying her paid maternity leave and eventually firing her after she took time away from work to care for her babies, who were born prematurely and died shortly afterward.

The problem, the communications giant cited, was that she used a surrogate.

Marybeth Walz, who worked as an executive at Verizon for some 17 years, had her uterus removed in 2001 after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. A surrogate was the only way for her to have biological children, court papers said.

However, once Walz told human resources at Verizon about her plan, her manager allegedly claimed that Walz was not eligible for any of the benefits afforded to new mothers. According to a Verizon representative who spoke to The Daily Beast, women who choose to use surrogates are not covered by the company's maternity leave policy, which falls under the short-term disability program.

After reportedly selling her house and applying for unpaid leave, Walz faced the unthinkable: Her twins Jude and Thad were born four months early and had serious complications. Thad passed away a day after his birth. Walz worked remotely in North Carolina until Jude was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, according to court papers. He suffered from infantile fibrosarcoma and passed away in May 2014 — almost five months later.

Walz's suit claims that she was demoted to an entry-level sales position during the time she was caring for her child. She applied for long-term disability leave for severe depression after losing both children, The Daily Beast reports, and received it — only to be fired by Verizon.

"This is a person who gave a lot of value to the company, and in her time of need, in pain, they effectively kicked her while she was down," Walz's attorney Nancy Cremins told The Daily Beast.

Walz is suing Verizon for discrimination based on sex, disability, and pregnancy. Verizon, in the meantime, has publicly denied the allegations. "Verizon has a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination of any kind and strongly denies any claims of it in this matter," a representative told The Daily Beast.

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