Whole Foods Fires a Mother for Taking Care of Her Child. Shame on Them.

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Feb. 6 2014 5:31 PM

Whole Foods Fires a Mother for Taking Care of Her Child. Shame on Them.

102970158-organic-eggs-on-the-shelves-05-january-2006-at-the
Does Whole Foods think that showing up to work is more important than making sure your kid is safe?

Photo by Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

My end-of-week outrage goes to two companies that are punishing employees for taking care of their kids. Whole Foods, you first. Rhiannon Broschat, a single mother in Chicago, decided to stay home from work on the freezing cold day of Jan. 28 because school was canceled. Broschat says she looked for someone to take care of her special-needs son, couldn’t find help, and decided not to leave him alone. That is a good thing, the kind of decision employers and all of us should move over to make room for. But Whole Foods fired Broschat. It’s not quite that simple, since, according to ThinkProgress, Whole Foods in the Midwest gives workers five unexcused absences over six months, and this was the one that put Broschat over the line. (She says she had documentation for her other absences.) But still: If she’d gone to work that day, Broschat would still have her job.

The Whole Foods spokesperson told ThinkProgress that its stores were open across Chicago, city transportation was running, and fewer than 10 employees didn’t come to work that day because of unexcused absences. Why does any of that matter? If you’re a parent facing the decision between going to work and making sure your kid is safe, you pick your kid. And an employer with any heart at all gives you a break for making that choice. Parents can get arrested for leaving their kids alone. Worse, they can lose their children. I’m still recovering from Rachel Aviv’s harrowing New Yorker story about one mother whose child was put up for adoption, after she left her son in his crib with a computer game and snacks so she could go to work. Whole Foods workers walked off the job Wednesday to support Broschat, and more power to them. What kills me about these stories is that they’re never about professional or upper-middle class parents. The more resources you have, the more slack you get cut. It’s an appalling reality of the American workplace, and Whole Foods should get a conscience and bring Broschat back.

Advertisement

And now on to AOL. Hey Tim Armstrong, it does not build morale when the CEO, in a company-wide conference call with employees, explains a benefits cut by calling out “two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK.” Seriously—that’s your excuse? And that’s how you treat parents with sick children, by shaming them? This one is easy, and other people have beat me to it: Apologize.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.