Working mother says she misplaced her job on account of have to look after her sick kids


A working mother struggles after she says she was fired for looking after her children.

Lauren Martinez of Cape Coral filed a lawsuit against her former employer. She claims her company fired her because she had to miss work to care for her sick children at the height of the pandemic.

Like so many mothers, Martinez takes pride in helping raise their children.

“You know, it’s your job; It’s your identity, ”said Martinez. “It is important to me for me. I like to work.”

Martinez no longer works.

Instead, she is suing her former employer Aspen Dental and the owner of the practice she used to work in, R. Dustin Dixon DMD Holdings, PLLC.

The lawsuit alleges these former employers unlawfully fired Martinez after her two children, including her newborn, became ill and her daughter’s school was closed.

“I had texted my manager to ask if I could obviously work from home, which I had previously been offered,” said Martinez. “So I don’t think I asked anything unreasonable, and shortly thereafter I was fired via text message.”

We asked Martinez what the text was and her lawyer spoke to us about it.

“Unfortunately, Lauren received a text message saying that if you can’t come in because of childcare, the position is vacant, which means you don’t have a job here,” said Benjamin Yormak, Martinez’s lawyer.

Yormak argues that Martinez’s employers violated the EFMLEA (Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act), which expanded the accommodation of families in the workplace during the coronavirus.

“This allowed working parents to take extra unpaid leave where childcare was the problem,” Yormak said.

We asked Martinez how she felt as a working mom.

“It felt really horrible and kind of put a number on my head,” said Martinez. “I lost a lot of sleep. I had to think a lot. “

Martinez shared her story with Time Magazine along with a number of other American mothers who filed similar lawsuits. Martinez is home now, pregnant again, still no job and small children to raise.

When we asked her about her children and how she will teach them about her experiences during that time, Martinez said, “I want you to stand up for what is right. I want them to use their voice … You just keep moving forward and doing what’s right. “

Both Aspen Dental and R. Dustin Dixon, DMD Holdings, PLLC, denied any wrongdoing in their response to the lawsuit.

While R. Dustin Dixon DMD Holdings, PLLC refused to comment, Aspen Dental sent a statement stating that while active litigation was not commented on, the practice provided its employees with additional protection beyond federal regulations.

Aspen Dental Statement

While this is an active litigation that cannot be commented on, the dentists who own and operate Aspen Dental branded practices are confident and proud of the way vacation requests and pandemic-related surgeries have been handled, including the widespread COVID -19 specific benefits and programs that are offered All employees: COVID-19 vacation, increased sick pay and continuation of company benefits.

Assistant Office Managers are critical non-clinical but critical employees who are key employees in the office who are responsible for supporting triage patients and providing them with the acute care they need.

Although employees like this are exempt from the FFCRA in this practice, this practice offered their employees additional protection beyond federal regulations. Since the beginning of the pandemic and before the FFCRA Act went into effect, the dentist owners of Aspen Dental Practice, which are independent practices, have prioritized adding a number of COVID-19-specific benefits and programs to their employees, including:

  • COVID-19 Vacation – Employees were offered up to 30 days of personal vacation for COVID-19 reasons, including daycare / school closings and high risk health issues
  • Improved Sick Pay – In 2020, independent practices were offered additional sick pay for up to 14 days to use for quarantine and pandemic-related tests. If employees appeared several times, they were entitled to this benefit again
  • Continuation of the Company’s Paid Benefits – In 2020, Aspen Dental’s independent practice paid 100% of the benefit cost for every employee who was on unpaid leave – whether personal, medical, or leave

Patients with dental emergencies are no different from those with medical emergencies such as a broken arm. They don’t have the luxury of waiting for COVID-19, so Aspen branded independent dental practices have worked tirelessly to keep their doors open and provide quality care to patients with emergency and immediate care needs throughout the pandemic, while patients and staff alike are safe.

During this pandemic, the nation has seen the heroic efforts of key people on the front lines, including those who work on Aspen Dental’s branding practices.

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