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Melrose Mom: State Laid Me Off Days After Baby’s Funeral

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV
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MELROSE (CBS) – “I feel that I was not able to grieve properly. In the midst of it I was struck with one more loss, a loss of a job, a loss of income and a loss of health insurance,” says Kristen Sullivan.

Sullivan says tremendous loss has ripped at the core of her family and in this discrimination claim she says her former employer, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education is partially to blame.

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports

Sullivan had been granted family leave by the state and the feds for the birth of her daughter, Conleigh Rose in August 2009.

Tragically, Conleigh died within days of being born. Still, Sullivan says, “I am blessed to have had her even for a short time.”

Less than one week after her baby’s funeral Sullivan says she received a call, followed up by a letter, saying her job working in human resources for the department was being eliminated.

“Verbally over the phone they said budgetary reasons. I then said ‘has anyone else been impacted’ and they said ‘not at this time.’ And to date, I’m still the only one laid off.”

The family’s house went into foreclosure and they’re still struggling to get by. According to the claim, before Sullivan, another woman was laid off four months after caring for her ailing mother-in-law while on family leave, and there have been three new hires in high paid positions since.

Sullivan says, “There’s a reason why there’s a law to protect from circumstances like this. I don’t want women or families to be afraid they’re going to lose their job if they have a child, if they go out on leave, if they get sick or care for someone who’s sick. That’s not the purpose of the law.”

A discrimination claim has been filed against the state and a civil suit is expected to be filed within a few weeks. A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education says they don’t comment on personnel issues.

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