He had already missed the births of his first three children so he knew he wanted to be there for his fourth child's birth. Only to find out he was fired the same day.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 31, 2020. It has since been updated.
We all hope we can work in a place that allows us a bit of leeway when we have an emergency, especially a family one. While some of us are lucky enough to find such places, there are some who aren't. And this father is one of them. Lamar Austin of Pittsfield, New Hampshire is a military veteran who received both good news as well as bad news as the first day of 2017 rolled in.
The 30-year-old former soldier, who was on a 90-day trial with the security firm, Salerno Protective Services, had been told initially that he was expected to be on call all the time before the company decided to make his position permanent. Lamar added that he had started working the part-time job three weeks earlier, where he was told that if he didn’t report to work by 8 a.m. the next morning, he would be fired, according to People.
New Hampshire dad gets overwhelming support and job offers after he was fired for attending the birth of his son https://t.co/HexRm2nzbt pic.twitter.com/tYu5NxADZO— The Root (@TheRoot) January 8, 2017
Knowing that his wife was due at any point in time during the trial period, the father-of-four made it a point to take on extra shifts and covered for others. So when time came for him to stand by his wife as she gave birth of his fourth child, Lamar decided to not go into work as it was a special day. But what made his son's birth even more special for him was that he had missed the birth of his first three children. So being there for his youngest, Cainan's birth was important to him.
Which is why what happened next was devastating. The day he got to see his son, that was the day his employer at the security firm told him that he was "terminated" just because he took a couple of days off to be by his wife's side as she was in labor. Despite having shown up to all his previous shifts, he received a text at 1 A.M. on January 1, 2017, informing him of his termination due to his absence from work. However, for the father, it wasn't as much of a deal because he was more worried about his wife and son, who was finally born at 7:44 A.M.
“I looked at it and I was like, ‘Wow. OK, cool,’ and that was about it for me,” he told the HuffPost. He admitted to the news outlet that though he was disturbed by the news, his family always comes first and he would do it again. "I thought, 'I'm just going to do what I feel is right for my family,' and that's it," he told the HuffPost.
“When they actually did it, I was stunned,” he told People, adding to the sentiment. “But then I thought, ‘Okay, I’m not going to pass judgment on this man.’ I couldn’t be two places at once. I had to be at the place where I thought I was most needed — with my wife, Lindsay.”
And he holds no grudges towards the employer or agency who terminated him. “Hey, I’m not holding any grudges. They did what they felt they had to do, and I did what I felt I had to do. My family is my life," he said. At the time, Lamar was just happy with what he had. His son Cainan “was the best New Year’s gift we could ask for,” Lamar told People. “My children just love having a new little brother. We’re all very happy and grateful.”
“I might have lost my job,” he says, “but I gained something so much better.” And yet, something extraordinary happened. While he thought he might face some financial difficulties, he didn't expect the outpour of help he would be receiving from strangers.
The kindness came first and foremost when the local newspaper reported the story, former town board member and paid family leave advocate Sara Persechino, launched a GoFundMe campaign for the family, according to Independent UK. “I don’t think they should have to be worrying about financial issues right now; it should be a joyful time for them,” she said. “I don’t think anyone should ever have to choose between their family and their job.”
Most read @ConMonitorNews story of 2017: Arriving on his due date, Cainan Austin is Concord's first baby of 2017. https://t.co/pK029bWy9F pic.twitter.com/kWldr9RaUZ— Jonathan Van Fleet (@CMonitor_JVF) January 3, 2017
Soon after, the job offers poured in from people who had read about his situation. Faced with so many options, Lamar decided to settle on an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Concord after business manager Denis Beaudoin reached out. “That would be a dream job for me, with a good future,” he says. “I’m thinking of taking them up on it. I’m at a loss for words to describe how touched I am. There are a lot of good people out there.”
What started as a devastating story turned into a story of love and kindness — two things every person needs in hard times. Humanity still exists and Lamar and the people who helped him are proof of that.