You shouldn’t lose your job for being sick or for caring for your kids: Lateasha’s story

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.49.19 PMWashington workers deserve paid sick leave. All too often, workers are forced to choose between their families and their jobs, which can result in a disastrous string of events. Paid sick days allow workers to stay home when they fall ill and to care for a sick child when they need it  most. Guaranteeing paid sick time means workers can stay home without losing wages -preventing hard working families from falling into poverty. Lateasha, a single mom here in Washington, shares her story about how paid sick leave could have made all the difference. 

I lost my job because I had to take time off for sickness. I hope that sharing my story will help people understand how important it is for working parents like me to have paid sick leave.

I’m a single mom to three wonderful children. We became homeless and moved into YWCA Family Village in Redmond, Washington on July 1, 2013. On November first, I found seasonal work for the holidays at a local department store. I stocked shelves after hours and did some customer service. I liked the job and it was really close to my apartment here.

I did a good job and was asked to stay on the job after the holidays which was great. I was promoted from seasonal to part-time. I didn’t miss any days of work.

In late January, I got a terrible pain in my tooth and could not work. I always called in and spoke with my supervisor. I missed three days. When I returned to work, my supervisor started cutting my shifts so I got less hours and less pay. She also assigned me to some different projects. I felt like I was in trouble because I missed work, but no one said anything about my job being in jeopardy.

My tooth got worse. My face got swollen from an infection and I had to see a dentist. The dental care helped and I began to feel better.

Then, my youngest child got head lice and MRSA which are both very contagious. He was not allowed to go to childcare – which I understand – but I’m a single parent. Luckily, my brother was able to babysit so I didn’t miss too many days – only four.

But, when I did call in sick on May 6th, I was fired. I was told that I missed too many days in a calendar year and I was no longer employed there. Altogether, I missed 7 days between November 1st and May 6th.

I just got a better job doing some warehouse work which I like. I hope that it will become a permanent, full-time job that includes paid leave.

What happened to me happens to lots of people. We should find a way for part-time workers to have some paid sick leave. You shouldn’t lose your job for being sick or for caring for your kids.

Editor’s note: We want to hear from you! If you have a story about how you have been affected by a lack of paid sick time or family leave, please contact Gabriela@eoionline.org. Your stories can help legislators understand the importance of paid sick days and family leave. 

Published by waworkfam

The Washington Work and Family Coalition includes representatives of seniors, women, labor, health professionals, children’s advocates, faith communities, low income workers, employers, non-profits and other organizations. We’re working together to make it easier for parents to raise healthy children and care for aging parents; for workers to care for themselves or their partners in the event of a serious illness; and for businesses to offer modern workplace standards that improve productivity and worker health.

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