Family Values @ Work

Fabiola Gonzalez, Denver Colorado

Fabiola Gonzalez, Denver Colorado

October 6, 2015

IMG_0226Fabiola had been working at her retail job for four years when her dad became ill. She took a week when he had surgery, but had to go back because she couldn’t afford unpaid time. Her dad never regained consciousness. “The doctor called me at work to say he was brain dead,” she said. “I had to make decisions about taking him off life support from my work phone. No one should have to make such a huge decision that way.”

Just 11 months later, Fabiola’s brother passed away. She had only three days off. “My brother was cremated and his ashes taken to Mexico,” she said. “I still don’t know where he is buried. I left that company shortly after.”

Then Fabiola met someone from Colorado 9to5. “Once we started talking, a lot of stuff they were fighting for was stuff I had been through. It took me almost two years to finally recover financially from the time I took for my father and brother, not to mention that the [employer was] threatening my job.”

The coalition led by Colorado 9to5 launched a campaign for family and medical leave insurance in 2014. Fabiola did phone banking, circulated post cards, talked with state reps, testified three times. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but well worth it.”

Fabiola felt really proud that the campaign made so much headway. Her mother and partner are also proud of her. Becoming active changed how Fabiola looked for a new job. This year her stepdad became very ill and she needed to take three weeks to care for him before he passed away. “I wanted a company that valued my home life as much as my work life.”

As a mother of a 13-year-old son with special needs, Fabiola Gonzales knows she may face leave issues again. She will continue being an activist. “If I could save someone else from going through what I went through, that would make it worth it.”



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