Single Mom Fired After Staying With Son When Schools Were Closed For Wintry Weather

Chicago mom says Whole Foods fired her for caring for son

Mom Allegedly Fired For Staying Home With Special Needs Son

Rhiannon Broschat, a worker at a Chicago Whole Foods store, was reportedly fired after staying home with her "special needs" son when public schools were closed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Broschat, reportedly a 25-year-old single mother, told the Sun-Times that she was a reliable employee and was in a jam that day, as she couldn't find someone to care for her son. She allegedly called the next day and was told she was "terminated due to abusing their attendance policy," Broschat said.

Chicago Public Schools had said that schools would continue a second day of closure because of "subzero temperatures and high winds [that] will make it dangerous for children and families getting to and from school."

It was during the most recent polar vortex, on January 28 when the high was 4 degrees and the low, -11 degrees, according to AccuWeather. At 9:30 in the morning, the temperature at O'Hare airport was -8 and the city was close to its record low for the date.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told that the company does not discuss employee matters and that no one event would lead to being fired. According to a statement provided to the paper, "our attendance policy in the Midwest region of Whole Foods Market is designed to provide support for our team members when these things happen" and that each employee was allowed up to five unexcused absences in any six-month period.

No singular attendance event would cause a team member to be separated, and excused absences are not included in the points system. Team members approaching their limit of unexcused absences receive warnings and reminders, and those who exceed their limit are separated.

"Our stores were open across the city," a spokesperson reportedly told ThinkProgress.org. "City transportation was running and essential city services were open that day despite school closings." According to the spokesperson, fewer than ten employees out of 1,800 across 19 Chicago stores took unexcused absences.

Apparently Broschat knew that she had no unexcused absences left and claimed that "when she spoke with someone in leadership, she was reassured that they supported her staying home with her son," according to ThinkProgress.

The firing prompted a protest, according to the Sun-Times report. An estimate 40 people went to the Whole Foods regional headquarters. Among the protestors was Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

"We have companies that claim to have family values," Lewis said. "We have a government that claims to promote family values, and yet, when we see what family values are, they do not look like what happened to Rhiannon. . . . Rhiannon's son needed her. And if we don't hear the voices - the needs of children, then I don't even know why we are selling food."

Broschat was also at the demonstration. It was not the first time that she protested Whole Foods. On July 31, she was at a demonstration with union activists who were part of the campaign calling for workers to be paid at least $15 an hour. Broschat appears in a photo taken at the event.
Fast Food And Retail Workers Hold Protests In Chicago
Scott Olson/Getty Images

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pb3326

The article was VERY poorly written. Reading it 3 times I finally think I figured out what happened: She already had 5 unexcused absences in 6 months, a sixth one could get her fired. School was closed, she called work and said she couldn't make it in and they said not to worry it would be ok. So they were cutting her a break, letting her have 6, when 5 can get you fired. Then the problem got worse. School was closed AGAIN the next day, she didn't show up again so they fired her, since the total was now up to SEVEN unexcused absences. I think they gave her a reasonable chance..
Then she immediately goes to the newspaper and tells them about it. I think this woman is just one of those people who is hard to get along with and likes to stir up things. My employer has done things to me that I didn't think were fair, but I didn't go running to the newspaper about it.

February 12 2014 at 9:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
freeportragdoll

so what do you do with the child left home alone someone calls social services on her,, what a dam shame this country is getting more f..... up as it goes...people are such ******** today so very sad..no common sense no more..these companies could care less see it more and more..get a lawyer lady the only thing this country knows they cant play with ...

February 11 2014 at 11:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to freeportragdoll's comment
Buk

The real shame is that she had 5 unexcused absences. Then when she actually needed to take time off she didnt have it to take. Yeah waste your money by getting a lawyer just to tell ya that she violated company attendance policy. LOL whats wrong with you?

February 13 2014 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bob

She was more than likely fired for her union activities and they used the absence as an excuse.

February 11 2014 at 10:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kim

Everyone keeps saying she didn't call till the next day. She obviously called the first day, because it says "Apparently Broschat knew that she had no unexcused absences left and claimed that 'when she spoke with someone in leadership, she was reassured that they supported her staying home with her son,' according to ThinkProgress." It's poorly written. It says when she called the next day (because the school system was closed again the next day), she was told she was fired.

February 11 2014 at 1:03 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kim's comment
pb3326

Exactly...thanks for clarifying that!
Another thing....the people who say she had a right to stay home are the same ones who will then go to that store shopping, and then send in a survey complaining that the store does not have enough employees to help customers!

February 12 2014 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sara Jones

Can tell most people on here don't shop at Whole Foods but, there regular customers will care. Pay fair, and treat your workers fairly or get out of the "whole food" business

February 11 2014 at 12:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Sara Jones

Wow..Truth didnt come out til the end of the article. True motives....union organizing. Whole Foods needs to pay her $15 an hour; hire her back and offer health insurance. OR; I WILL NEVER SHOP THERE AGAIN!!!!!!

February 11 2014 at 12:04 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
howie429

"Called" the next day?? Why couldn't she call that day?. Is this the first time?

February 10 2014 at 11:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
greenwestlawns

the problem with whole foods is they let any lesbian on a power trip be a "leader" and they are all about individual decisions and responsibility and all about less overall control, which is probably a good thing. But that is assuming you don't have angry confused lesbians making those decisions.

February 10 2014 at 11:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
KathleenVMcC

A career change as a Special Education Aide in the public schools would be the true answer for Rhiannon Broschat. She would have the same hours and days to work that would match her child's schedule. As a lifelong teacher, diagnostician and administrator of children and parents and teachers in Special Education I understand the plight of Rhiannon. These parents are truly saints as they are the caregivers for special needs children. God bless them and guide them. Those without understanding of special needs will learn later in life as their circumstances bring such experiences to them. Empathy is a gift from God.

February 10 2014 at 8:19 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

If she called the next day, it is considered a no call/no show. Many companies have a zero tolerance policy for this type of attendance issue. Although it is difficult to have children out of school due to weather, I can understand why she was terminated. The fact that she was at a demonstration earlier in the year most likely did not help her cause in this instance.

February 09 2014 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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