Mom Without Childcare Was Directed to Return to Office. Then, They ‘Laid Her Off’

Kayla Singletary and her kids facebook post

The company, whose slogan is “I Respond and Care,” ignored her repeated requests for flexibility.

A New Mexico tribal employer “laid off” their public relations manager just one week after welcoming her back to the office–and after she said she didn’t have…

What happens when your employer asks you to return to work before childcare is available? In the case of public relations pro Kayla Singletary, you lose your job.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, mom was “one of the lucky ones” to be invited back to her workplace, after working from home with her two kids for weeks. While most employees were asked to return on May 18, the management team, including Kayla, was expected to come back a week sooner, on May 11. But Kayla was still homeschooling her third-grader and kindergartner. Her husband, who operates an essential small business, couldn’t care for the kids; neither could anyone else. So she reached out to her direct supervisor, HR and the administration.

“I immediately started asking, ‘How are we going to handle this with our employees? How are they going to be able to take care of their kids and finish the school year?” Kayla said in a video she posted to her Facebook page.

In anticipation of her expected return-to-the-workplace date, “I asked to take a few days of PTO, to continue to work from home for a few more days as [I had] without hiccup for two months now, or even to work a different shift,” she wrote in the post that accompanied the video. She even asked if she could bring the kids and their laptops for schoolwork with her to the office or take advantage.

Her multiple emails and text messages were largely ignored. Instead of addressing her requests, the company asked her to start shutting off the employee communication channels she managed.

“They’d been in brief communication, but it’d been dwindling as I started requesting PTO and called HR to verify my PTO balance,” Kayla told Working Mother in an exclusive interview. “I should have seen that, at least it seemed, that since I started voicing concerns, they started pushing me out.”

Then, they shut off her work cellphone and work email.

She emailed from her personal account asking about whether she could take advantage of the Families First Coronavirus Act. Again, she didn’t receive a response.

On Monday, May 11, that first morning she was expected back, she called to say she couldn’t make it in. She was told hours later: “The directive was to return to work today during normal business hours…We will give you opportunity to report to work tomorrow at 9a.m. for management meetings or the alternative is voluntary resignation.”

On May 14, just one week after receiving a letter “warmly welcoming” her back to work, she received another letter: HR informed her they had “re-evaluated their business needs,” and they were laying off Kayla.

“I said, ‘That’s not what happened. You can’t do that,” Kayla said in her Facebook video. “I had already got my letter inviting me back to work. I asked for accommodations to take care of my kids…you ignored me…I refused to allow them to change their story because they pushed me out. They stopped talking to me.”

She requested her HR file, which should have included documented meetings with HR involving her previous hostile-work-environment claims against her direct supervisor. Weeks later, she received some HR files, but that particular documentation was missing.

She filed a complaint with the EEOC. Her interview is in August.

She has also consulted with a lawyer who suggested she file a complaint with the Human Rights Bureau; unfortunately, they told Kayla they had no jurisdiction because she had worked for a tribal employer. Kayla, understandably, is frustrated.

“For five years, I was a really great employee. I never got written up. I drove employee morale. Then I was pushed out the door because I needed to take care of my kids,” Kayla said in her video.

She had been handling their coronavirus crisis management communications, working during the day, often from her closet and whatever “corners of silence” she could find, and well into the evenings. And she was doing it successfully.

The irony of it all is that the organization’s slogan is, “I Respond and Care.” That’s all Kayla wanted from her former employer, she said.

“I fought for them and defended them, in a PR sense, for five years. I tried to do good for them. I adopted a highway, cleaned up litter with them,” Kayla lamented.

Plus, Kayla led the effort, “including the multiyear application submission process, to have the [employer] recognized as a GOLD LEVEL recipient of Family Friendly New Mexico, a nonprofit that recognizes businesses for their family-friendly practices and policies.”

Her new goal? “I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to my friends. It can’t happen to anybody else. They have to do better,” Kayla told Working Mother.

She concluded her Facebook video with: “To that employer: Shame on you. You could’ve done so much better. In the end, all we have is our integrity, and that is what I will walk away with, and it’s too bad you couldn’t say the same.”

Working Mother referred Kayla to an attorney network, and we will update this story as more information becomes available.


The company, whose slogan is “I Respond and Care,” ignored her repeated requests for flexibility.

A New Mexico tribal employer “laid off” their public relations manager just one week after welcoming her back to the office–and after she said she didn’t have…

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