One thing our society tends to struggle most with is finding balance, particularly when it comes to professional life and personal life. We are without a doubt, a generation of workaholics whose careers often times take precedent over any semblance of a normal relationship. It can be extremely difficult to spread yourself evenly between these two identities and it’s important to know when one should be taken as the higher priority.
When it comes to family, there is no question (at least not in my mind) that they should always come first. At the end of the day or to be a bit more dramatic, at the end of all of this, you’re not going to look back and think of all of those meetings you attended. Instead (hopefully), you’ll reminisce about every memory you made with the people who mattered most to you. *steps off soapbox*
This is probably why I have the utmost respect for a dedicated father from New Hampshire who gave up his job to attend the birth of his son. Even though, his job never should have been at stake in the first place.
Father of four and military veteran, Lamar Austin said he was fired on Jan. 1, for missing work to witness the birth of his son.
According to the Independent, Austin worked for Salerno Protective Services, a private security group for college campuses and retail stores. He was in the middle of his 90-day trial period and was expected to be on call night and day.
On December 28 another employee cancelled due to a snow storm and Austin was asked cover the shift.
He could not, however because his wife, Lindsay, went into labour – which lasted from Friday evening through Sunday morning.
“The second day I told my boss, ‘My wife is still in labor,’ and he just said, ‘You’re forcing my hand, if you aren’t in work by 8:00 tomorrow we are going to terminate you.’” Austin told the Concord Monitor.
Even with the threat of losing his job hanging over his head, Austin refused to miss the birth of his son.
“I thought, ‘Family comes before anything else,’ ” he said. “I’m not going to turn my back on them for a job.”
On New Year’s Day, Austin got a text message saying that his employment had been “terminated.”
What kind of human being not only fires someone for missing work for the birth of their child, but also does so on New Years? But Austin responded much more calmly than we would have.
“I just responded ‘ok,’” he said. “I was in the hospital, it was a long night, and I wasn’t trying to argue with nobody about a job while my wife was in labor.”
His beautiful son, Cainan was born just a few short hours later and was the first baby of 2017 born in Concord.
Since sharing their story, thousands have been donated to a GoFundMe to help the Austin family.
The campaign’s founder, Sara Pereschino, does not know the family personally, but spoke with Austin before starting the initiative.
“I have a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old and not only was my husband able to be there for both births, he had time home with me and the girls after. I can’t imagine having to choose between seeing your son born and keeping your job.”
“If we’re really going to do right by our working families, companies and governments need to step up to institute policies like paid family leave,” she said.
We could not agree more.
In a statement with BuzzFeed News, a rep for Salerno Protective Services denied that Austin’s termination had “anything to due with his child’s birth.”
The rep said he offered Austin “reinstatement if he would agree to more training and put forth an effort to correct some things,” but that Austin declined. Can you really blame him?
“The timing of the termination was poor on my part but it was necessary for operation purposes,” he said. “Salerno will be looking into revamping it’s termination policies to avoid such misunderstandings in the future.”
Misunderstandings!? …Are they serious?
Austin has also received numerous other job offers from employers who heard his story.
Denis Beaudoin, the business manager from Concord’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, encouraged Austin to apply for an apprenticeship.
“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 told the Concord Monitor.
Though losing his job was not ideal, Austin does not regret his decision.
“It was hard, but if I have to choose between work and family, I’m always going to pick my family,” he said.
Good on you, Austin.