Concerned Citizen

Parent of child w/ heart condition discriminated against & looses job at unsafe workplace

From East York, ON
East York
M4C

Tue Apr 27 2021

Anonymous

I have a 1 year old child, who has a Congenital Heart Defect. She had life saving open heart surgery at 6 months old (Summer 2020). The surgery successfully repaired the defects, but there is an issue still being monitored. She is high risk for Covid. We have MANY stories of how the pandemic has impacted us, but today I’m sharing one particular story regarding my spouse’s employment.

My husband was laid off from his job in early March 2021. While the “official” reason was they eliminated his position, this is simply not true (or at the very least, does not tell the real story). He was laid off after several months of unsafe and hostile work conditions.

He’s a good worker, was promoted, and excelled at his job. Once the initial chaos of the first lockdown subsided, things at his workplace took a turn.

The company was well aware of our child’s medical history and vulnerability to Covid. His job was 100% capable of being remote, but he was forced to work in person where public health measures were not being followed. So he took precautions needed to best protect himself, hesitant to escalate matters.

In December 2020 when the Ontario gov’t announced “Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home”, my husband requested to WFH. The request was first ignored for days, and when followed up on, was denied. No reasonable accommodation was offered.

From this point forward, his superiors and co-workers became hostile toward him. He was the odd guy out, trying to protect his child during a worldwide health pandemic. He was yelled at, sworn at, and alienated. He only knew a couple of co-workers who took Covid seriously.

He was told to work in a locked office, which was the company’s concession. For reasons we still can’t wrap our head around, many did not like this. He was yelled through a closed window, combatively questioned, and (for lack of a better word) mocked. Some became aggressive.

One morning he showed up to work and found the lock on the office door had been forcibly removed. When he inquired about this, his superior shrugged, got the lock reinstalled & chose to now remove the window to appease the co-workers. Shortly after this, he was laid off.

While we are grateful he is no longer in this environment, he’s now unemployed and looking for work in an uncertain time. I’m nearing the end of my mat leave, unsure if I can return to work due to the state Ontario is in. My child can’t go to daycare under these circumstances, likely for a while.

Life has thrown us many curveballs this year, but we were floored at the callous treatment he received at this workplace. We looked into pursuing this legally, but w/upfront costs and the stress of dragging this on, we opted not to, and accepted the small severance provided.

We are grateful that the worst thing that happened was my husband losing his job. It’s certainly preferred over contracting Covid and passing it onto our child w/ a ‘pre-existing condition’.

Speaking of which, the surgery she had allows her to live a relatively normal life. However, our 14 month old has never played w/ another kid and most family and friends hardly know her. She’s been through so much already, yet has a wonderfully bubbly disposition. She deserves more than this.

The provincial government has given employers the power to do as they please. The company deemed themselves essential, forced people to needlessly work in unsafe conditions, and used underhanded tactics to fire someone trying to protect a baby from a ruthless virus.

It’s hard to describe all we’ve been through. It’s been the best and worst year of our lives. Heart surgery on your baby is no joke, and support has been minimal all around. We crave normalcy and to see our child live outside of quarantine for the 1st time.

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