The owner of the clothing brand Kyte Baby has apologized, twice, after an employee was allegedly denied a work-from-home option after adopting a 22-week-old premature baby.
Ying Liu, the founder of Kyte Baby, has taken to TikTok to respond to the criticism after employee Marissa Hughes was canned after being denied her work-from-home request to care for her newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital nine hours away.
“I really want to apologize to her and the community, and I really want to take this opportunity to say that I’m sorry,” Liu said in a second apology video Thursday.
Liu had posted an apology the day before, but quickly doubled down after critics accused her of sounding “scripted.”
Hughes and husband Rawley, of Dallas, adopted their baby, Judah Al Haven Hughes, in late December after getting a call from their adoption agency.
Judah was located nine hours away in El Paso, Texas, where he was born prematurely at 22 weeks and barely weighed a pound, the new family revealed in a GoFundMe.
Because the baby was born early, he has “various health concerns” and requires an extended hospital stay and is expected to be released from the NICU by the end of March, Hughes revealed in the fundraiser that has garnered nearly $40,000.
Hughes, who has not publicly commented on her alleged firing, reportedly requested to work from the hospital while her baby was admitted but was only offered two weeks.
The Post has reached out to Hughes for comment.
The new mom’s tenure at Kyte Baby is less than a year, meaning she doesn’t qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must work for a company with more than 50 employees and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the leave of absence, according to the Department of Labor. FMLA provides employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave while still maintaining benefits, such as health care.
Adoptive parents are also eligible for maternity leave if a company offers it. It is unclear if Kyte Baby does.
Hughes, who suffered from infertility before deciding to adopt, was allegedly told if she did not return after two weeks, she would no longer have a position at Kyte.
However, Hughes’ sister revealed in a now-deleted video posted on TikTok that another Kyte employee, who was pregnant, was offered leave and was even invited to the company’s warehouse to pick up products from her registry.
Liu said she was the one to “veto her request to go remote” and admitted that in hindsight it was a “terrible decision, insensitive, and selfish.”
“[I] was only focused on the fact that her job has always been done on-site and I did not see the possibility of doing it remotely,” the baby brand owner said in the TikTok video.
“I cannot imagine the stress she had to go through not having the option to go back to work and having to deal with a newborn in NICU,” Liu continued. “Thinking back, it was really a terrible mistake. I own 100% of that.”
Liu said she would review her HR policy and procedures because she agreed with the critics that Kyte Baby needed to “set the example.”
She also praised Hughes, calling her a “fantastic woman” with the “biggest heart.”
Liu also offered Hughes her job back and said she would receive full benefits and could do it remotely as requested. She also said the new mom would continue to be paid until she decided to return.
“Your original position is always open for you when you come back,” she said.
It is unclear if Hughes will return to the Dallas-based company. The Post has contacted Kyte Baby for comment.
Earlier this week, Hughes gave an update on baby Judah’s condition. She said he would be transferred to a Level 4 NICU and he was suffering from a blockage in his intestines, had an infection, and holes in his lungs and heart.