A former employee has filed a lawsuit against the Coach brand’s parent company Tapestry Inc. for firing her right after returning from maternity leave.
According to Jezebel, Monica Jean Baptiste worked for the Global Coach Brand planning team before she was terminated. She had notified her supervisors of her pregnancy in January 2017. In August of the same year, she had a performance evaluation which determined that she “met or exceeded all her goals and job requirements” which resulted in being given a full bonus.
When she left work to begin her maternity leave in September 2017, she felt secure in her position. She had no suspicion that her job was in jeopardy and she even reportedly kept in touch with her boss during her absence to “ensure that all was well.”
However, things took a turn for the worse when she went back to work in January 2018. She claims she worked for only two days before she was fired. Jezebel notes that her abrupt termination appears to have violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which requires employers to give 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave to employees.
Baptiste believes that Tapestry was “wrongfully retaliating” against her for taking leave. Adding insult to injury, the bonus she was awarded before going on leave included stock options that wouldn’t vest for four years, which meant she had to stay with the company for that time frame to have access to the benefits.
Since she’s been terminated before the four years is up, she cannot take advantage of her bonus.
While many details of this case are currently unclear, the fact that Baptiste was blindsided by her termination is enough to raise eyebrows.
In light of the attention that gender inequality as well as workplace sexism and harassment have garnered amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the decision by Tapestry to arbitrarily fire a new mother seems especially egregious.
It's difficult to imagine that within just two days back on the job she actually did something to warrant her termination.
If it turns out there is no viable explanation for this, Coach and Tapestry can likely expect to lose business from women who will, no doubt, be outraged by Baptiste's situation and may feel uncomfortable giving their hard-earned dollars to a company that punishes working women for becoming mothers.