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.

More from Work & Money

The morning at my insurance firm was hectic. My first appointment after lunch was a balding man in his mid-50s. I smiled at him warmly and attempted ...
9:30 p.m. — HANGRY. Get home and eat canned soup and watch Netflix before bed
Any recent grads freaking out about their job prospects need not fear: Apparently the demand for exorcists has never been higher. The Telegraph reports ...
Refinery29 joined the Clinton Foundation for a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to get a firsthand look at the experiences of the women and girls who live ...
9:45 a.m. — Starbucks reward, bitches! OBV I get the most expensive thing that I can concoct. A Venti 5 shot soy latte. Yum
Four years ago, my life was exactly where I wanted it: I was working as a senior editor at a major glossy magazine. My first young adult novel had just ...
After months of waiting and countless discussions about what the future holds for our favorite television characters, Shondaland shows are finally back. ...
You know what's easy? Spending money. It's the best way to get what you want right now. Except...this is not sustainable. Those little luxuries add up ...
Just after my son’s first birthday, I was on the phone with my mom, grappling over a gut-wrenching decision. I was scheduled to go on a business trip but...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Fifty percent off your purchase here. 1,000 free miles there. When it comes to credit cards, the benefits are easy to see — while the downsides are often ...
As the host of RIOT's Woke Bae, we already know comedian Phoebe Robinson is funny AF while getting serious about major issues like feminism and ...
If the new phrase for the office BFF is the "work wife," then is a good boss or mentor your "work mom" or "work dad"? Part authority figure, part dispenser...
12:45 p.m. — I have a dryer, rare in Shanghai, so my friend runs home to get his laundry and then does a load at my place