CEO denied Alana Major’s request as information ‘not received’


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE CEO of Family Guardian insisted yesterday that his company denied Alana Major’s request to work from home during her difficult pregnancy because she didn’t get back to them with sufficient information about her doctor’s advice.

Mrs Major, who was a senior executive at the company, is suing her former employer, claiming work stress contributed to her miscarriage in 2019. Her doctor had recommended she work from home because of her high-risk pregnancy. Family Guardian did not facilitate her request. 

She miscarried her son, Che Karson Major, on July 31, 2019. 

 Family Guardian CEO Glen Ritchie testified yesterday that sometime in early 2019, he and Dr Kerry Higgs, a senior VP of human resources, met with Mrs Major, where she told them that her pregnancy was high risk. He said during the meeting that the three devised a plan for how work would continue in her absence. 

 Mr Ritchie agreed with Mrs Major’s lawyer, Sharon Wilson, KC, that the plan covered maternity leave and absence due to illness.

 On June 21, 2019, both Mr Ritchie and Dr Higgs received an email from Mrs Major’s OBGYN recommending she take bed rest and work from home if both parties agreed. The letter mentioned that the complainant was experiencing complications at that stage in her pregnancy.

 Mrs Major worked a regular 9 to 5 job from Monday to Friday, and her work hours sometimes exceeded this.

 Mr Ritchie said that the company requested clarification on the timing and extent of bedrest, claiming the doctor’s wording was unclear.

 While Mr Ritchie agreed that Mrs Major directly reported to him because she was a senior VP, he said Dr Higgs primarily handled Human Resources issues and liaised with Mrs Major concerning her request.

 Mrs Major later sent another email asking for a response to the first email.

 Mr Ritchie agreed the email showed she was trying to engage him as her supervisor. 

 Mrs Major clarified in the email that she was not sick, but pregnant. She once again requested to work from home.

 Although Mr Ritchie maintained that the request for bed rest was vague and needed clarification, he agreed that Mrs Major was offering a solution to change her work regimen. 

 A week after the second email, Mr Ritchie talked with Mrs Major and reportedly said Dr Higgs would handle the matter.

 On July 17, the complainant sent another email asking for a response to the July 9 email, to which Mr Ritchie responded that they’d meet on July 19.

 Mr Ritchie said that throughout that month, he was busy with work engagements.

 The July 19 meeting was delayed when Mrs Major told him she was travelling abroad to meet a specialist concerning her pregnancy.

 While the meeting was rescheduled to July 23, it was delayed twice, first to July 29, then to July 31, six weeks after Mrs Major made her request to meet with Mr Ritchie.

 When Mrs Wilson asked him if he provided a timely response to Mrs Major’s request in keeping with company policy, Mr Ritchie said yes, given his various responsibilities.

 When asked if Mrs Major ever told him that her work load was too much, Mr Ritchie said she might have but that the structure in place then was the same as it is now.

 The CEO admitted that Mrs Major performed her duties to the company without an assistant vice president and that she had around 50 employees under her purview.

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