A worker who manages a small group of people in her department at a notable company struggled with guilt after being blamed for not pushing hard enough to fight for an employee to keep her job position.
The employee, named “Cindy,” had recently suffered a miscarriage in her first trimester and was demoted after refusing to come back to work because she was not emotionally ready.
Redditor “airbear9801” felt the pressure from her boss to get Cindy to return to work after a 12-week absence, but it backfired.
The Original Poster (OP) discovered Cindy was transferred from her department at an entry-level position, which was the direct result of her refusal to return to work.
“So this is keeping me up at night and I really need to know if I’m TA (The A**hole).”
“I (F[emale] 28) work at a customer service center for a large corporation and manage a small department (4 people under me) of highly trained specialists who deal with legal matters.”
“In reality I need 6 or 7 people to do the amount of work we do but you get what corporate allows.”
“One of my specialists, let’s call her Cindy (F32) recently found out she was six weeks pregnant and had a miscarriage a week later; she has been on leave from work ever since, that was 12 weeks ago.”
“Legally corporate is not required to accommodate a leave any longer than what it would take to medically recover (which wouldn’t be more than a few days as she went to the ER when it happened and they sent her home the same night) plus a week of bereavement time.”
“But after some pushing on my part she was allowed to take her time coming back because losing a pregnancy is traumatic.”
At the 12-week mark, the OP was instructed to reach out and ask Cindy to come back.
But Cindy still felt unfit to resume work.
“She flat out refused saying she wasn’t ready and still couldn’t go an hour without crying.”
“At this point, without Cindy, I only had three employees; corporate refused to allow me to temporarily put someone in her spot as her leave wasn’t technically medically necessary and it takes six months of training minimum to be able to independently do what we do.”
“My boss called me into her office after I spoke with Cindy and asked how my department was getting along work wise.”
“I was honest and said we were very overwhelmed and that I was dreading what would happen next as our busy season (summer) was coming up.”
The OP also mentioned she negotiated with Cindy to reduce her work hours to ease her back in to her duties, but she declined.
An upper management decision placed Cindy in a lower paying position as a result.
“My boss later informed me that Cindy was being removed from my department (so I could put someone in her spot) and that, while Cindy wasn’t losing her job yet, she was being put in a spot in a lesser trained department that wouldn’t need her as badly, which comes with a pay cut.”
Upon hearing of her demotion, Cindy shot the messenger.
“I was directed by my boss to contact Cindy and inform her of this and Cindy flat out told me I was an a**hole for not ‘understanding’ her situation because I don’t have kids and for not fighting for her.”
“She also accused me of being selfish and lazy because, according to her, all I care about is the extra work her continued absence was causing me.”
“I told her that I had fought for her and that I was part of the reason she wasn’t losing her job entirely because I had pushed for compassion. She then said she would deal strictly with her new manager and hung up on me.”
The OP admitted feeling awful about the whole situation and wondered AITA (Am I the A**hole) “for not pushing harder” to maintain Cindy’s position in her department.
Anonymous strangers on the internet weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
“NTA. Sounds like Cindy needs help from a professional. This will be a good wake up for her – maybe get her some medication that she needs or therapy.”
“Business isn’t personal. You are in a professional agreement – she works as a member of your team, she gets paid and supported. No work, no support.”
“Three months is more than a lot of new mothers get. It’s time for her to decide to push past the sorrow or lose her job.” – NaaZira
“Honestly I thought about that. I would NEVER say this to her but standard maternity leave where we live is only 6 weeks (which is bullsh*t in and of itself but that’s its own topic).”
“I don’t know what good it would have done to push back on upper management’s decisions when, from a solely business perspective, they’ve already been generous.” – airbear9801
This Redditor didn’t fault the OP for what happened but expressed concern for Cindy’s depression.
“Honestly, I wonder if Cindy isn’t in a downward spiral because all she’s been doing is dwelling on the loss.”
“I feel badly for her, but if after 12 weeks you are still constantly crying, continuing on doing the same thing you are doing may not be healthy.”
“OP isn’t the a** here; there isn’t anything else she can do. The world does continue to turn after loss.” – GroovyYaYa
“3 months off of work to grieve a miscarriage at 7 weeks that she only knew about for one week.”
“That’s a very generous amount of time in every part of the world. What people don’t know is many many women have miscarriages and while it is sad, the world still goes on, and 3 months later you should be at least trying to move forward with your life.” – TheCookie_Momster
Others who’ve experienced the same misfortune gave their perspectives.
“Yes! Many many women have miscarriages. I find it interesting that this woman called OP an asshole because she doesn’t have kids and couldn’t understand. Umm, what?”
“Many couples don’t have kids BECAUSE they keep miscarrying. People that don’t have children are perhaps more likely to understand.”
“Also, as someone who has had two miscarriages, the one I had in my 2nd trimester was deeply upsetting.”
“I cannot imagine thinking anyone is an a**hole for wanting you to do your job after taking off a quarter of a year to mourn a pregnancy you knew about for one week.”
“Yes the first trimester miscarriage was hard, but Jesus, literally millions of women have this happen and don’t take off a week of work.” – Pavlovshooman
“My company would not allow me to take bereavement when I miscarried at 12 weeks. I was permitted to take the day it happened, and the following day, while I was getting a D and C, but she complained about the short notice.”
“When I specifically asked about bereavement I was told a person hadn’t actually died.”
“To make it even better, my boss was a devout catholic and bragged about how she stands outside of planned parenthood harassing women.”
“A few more insane things happened, and she finally crossed a line far enough that her boss demoted, and transferred her, and she was eventually fired when they realized how horrible she was.”
“Never once thought about quitting. Need to eat, and pay for that really expensive miscarriage.” – spazcat84
“She didn’t lose a baby, she had a miscarriage in the first trimester. I don’t mean to be insensitive but nearly half of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage within the first few months.”
“A miscarriage is sad, but it’s still a normal part of trying to have a child.” – Dan-D-Lyon
Many people mentioned women miscarrying within the first six weeks often don’t realize this common occurrence happened, often mistaking it for a late period.
This woman said she hated to “sound cold” but agreed about the frequency of miscarriages.
“I think I know just as many women who have had miscarriages as who haven’t and I have to assume some more have had them and just haven’t spoken about it.”
“Unfortunately, they’re quite common. I’ve had two myself.”
“I realize that it may be upsetting for Cindy, but I think her employer has been more than generous in the recovery time they’ve offered. They’re a business, not a charity.” – tappytaps
While many Redditors sympathized with Cindy, they were not surprised by the outcome of her extended time off.