Maria Alves, who was fired from Boston University after asking for additional medical leave for postpartum depression, has won $182,000 in a lawsuit.
Alves had severe emotional difficulties after the birth of her son three years ago. She had to take additional time off from her job at Boston University and they terminated her because of it.
Alves said in the lawsuit that Boston University didn’t work with her to provide reasonable accommodations.
“Their reason [to fire Alves] was that they just couldn’t hold the job any longer, that the department was busy and they needed to fill the position,” her attorney, Matthew Fogelman, said. “They tried to argue in the case that there would have been undue hardship on the company but the jury did not find that persuasive.”
“I think it’s notable,” Fogelman said of the jury’s ruling. “Employers have to be equipped to know how to handle not only maternity leave but other complications, whether it’s a mental condition or a physical condition after birth. Maybe you have to hire a [temporary employee] for another month or maybe you have to borrow someone else from another department or maybe the person can work part-time or from home.”
“It was a compound effect because you have the postpartum depression and next thing you know I was terminated,” Alves said.” “Financially it was drastic. I was maxing out credit cards because I had a newborn I had to feed, and clothes and diapers to buy.”
“It’s difficult to explain for someone who has never gone through it,” Alves added. “I really didn’t even know what it was. I just knew that my sister had gone through the ‘baby blues’ and I figured it was going to go away for me in a few weeks and it didn’t.”
Alves is now working at a law firm. While she hasn’t recovered financially from her termination, she is feeling better emotionally and no longer dealing with crippling anxiety and emotional pain.