Four days ago, Lamar Austin became the proud father of the first baby born in Concord, losing his job after missing work to be with his family at the hospital.
He chose to remain positive, he said, focusing on his new son instead of the job he lost.
“Sometimes you lose something and you get something even better,” he said Sunday afternoon while resting at Concord Hospital with his wife, Lindsay, and baby boy, Cainan.
Since then, the military veteran and father of four has received at least three job offers, an outpouring of support and a fundraising page dedicated to helping his family financially.
After reading in the Monitor that Austin was hoping to get into electrical work, Denis Beaudoin, the business manager from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Concord, offered Austin the chance to apply for an apprenticeship.
Beaudoin lives in Pittsfield, the same town as Austin, and said electrical work might offer a more flexible and understanding environment for someone like Austin, who has a big family and wants to devote time to it.
“I know how valuable family time is, and if you’re a union member we incorporate that, we understand that, and we don’t penalize you for that,” Beaudoin said.
Glenn Brackett, president of the NH AFL-CIO union, which represents nearly 30,000 workers, also offered Austin an apprenticeship.
And the branch manager of the Adecco staffing agency in Portsmouth offered to help Austin find another job.Old job
Austin said he was hired by Salerno Protective Services a month ago for a 90-day trial period as a part-time security guard in which he was expected to be on call 24/7. Salerno Protective Services provides security to clients including stores and college campuses.
When Austin got the job, the company told him they were looking for “dependable people,” he said.
Austin said he couldn’t cover one shift offered to him last month because he had to take his wife to a doctor’s appointment. Then Lindsay went into labor Friday night and Cainan was born Sunday morning. Austin said he missed shifts Friday and Saturday. At 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Austin said he got a text that read: “As of now, you are terminated.”
The company said Tuesday it wouldn’t comment on an employee’s status.
“Being shrouded in confidentiality we are unable to comment until all business with Mr. Austin has been concluded,” president and CEO Anthony Salerno said by email Wednesday. “SPS is not in the practice of releasing employees for reasons stated in the article you published but must be cognizant of the product we give our clients!” Family support
The story struck a chord with readers who questioned whether an employee could be fired for missing work due to the birth of a child.
Because New Hampshire is an “at-will” employment state, an employer may generally terminate an employment relationship for part-time or full-time workers at any time and for any reason, with a few exceptions. That means Austin has little in the way of legal protection, no matter how good an excuse the birth of a child may seem, legal experts said.
Sara Persechino, a mother of two in Hopkinton, doesn’t think that’s fair. Persechino was on the Hopkinton select board in 2014 when it unanimously voted in favor of paid family leave for town employees.
“I don’t think anyone should ever have to choose between their family and their job,” she said.
She decided to set up a GoFundMe account for the Austin family.
“I don’t think they should have to be worrying about financial issues right now; it should be a joyful time for them,” Persechino said. “Anything we can do to make this even more joyous is worth it.”
As for Austin, he said he is surprised and beyond grateful for all the support.
“I’m thanking God for delivering one of the many promises,” he said.
(Leah Willingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)