Kyte Baby CEO whiffs on first apology, does better on second after mom of newborn denied remote work
The CEO of a baby clothing company has issued two apologies on social media following her decision to refuse an employee’s request to work remotely after the premature baby she adopted was hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The worker at Texas-based Kyte Baby, Marissa Hughes, adopted the baby who barely weighed one pound at birth — and was promptly fired after seeking the accommodation, according to Hughes’ sister.
That led to a backlash among the public, and caused CEO Ying Liu to take to TikTok to issue an apology. But the first one came off as scripted and insincere.
“Kyte Baby prides itself on being a family-oriented company,” said Liu. “We treat biological and non-biological parents equally.”
She went on to apologize to Hughes, and spent time apologizing to the customers — or the company’s “tight community,” as Liu described them.
“I want to assure you that as the company’s owner, I will always stand behind our values,” she said. “I will be reviewing our HR policy and procedures to make sure to avoid hurting our staff and our community in the future. Finally, we’re truly happy for her adoption and wish the best to her and her family.”
Shortly after, Liu returned to TikTok with a less formal video — and acknowledged the flood of negative reaction.
“The comments were right. It was scripted. I memorized it, I basically just read it. It wasn’t sincere,” she said. “I’ve decided to go off-script and just tell you exactly what happened.”
Liu said she personally vetoed Hughes’ request to work remotely while she had to care for the hospitalized newborn.
“When I think back, this was a terrible decision,” she said. “I was insensitive, selfish, and only focused on the fact that her job had always been done on site and I did not see the possibility of doing it remotely.”
Liu said that having some “sensitivity, understanding and flexibility” would have accommodated her needs during this difficult period.
“I cannot imagine the stress that she had to go through not having the option to go back to work and having to deal with a newborn in NICU,” she said. “Thinking back, it really was a terrible mistake. I own 100 per cent of that.”
She acknowledged that people might think she was just trying to save face for the company following the backlash — and admitted that was true.
“But at the end of the day, as human beings, as a mom, as the female owner of the business and especially a baby business, I feel like I need to set the record straight,” said Liu, adding that she understands the full impact of her decision and short-sightedness.
“We need to set the example because we are in the baby business,” she said. “I want to go above and beyond in protecting women and giving them the right protection and benefits when they’re having babies.”
She asked for time to review the HR policies to improve things for all employees — and then spent time talking about Hughes directly.
“She’s a fantastic woman. She has the biggest heart, and I’ve said multiple times to multiple people — including her family — that I love her as a worker. I enjoying working with her every day. She’s one of the few people that I actually see every day on site.”
She apologized for the damage she had done, and offered to continue to pay her benefits — and compensate her for the hours Hughes proposed as a remote employee during the time her baby recovered.
“I understand if you don’t want to come back to work anymore, but we will continue to pay you as if you were working remotely for us,” she said. “Your original position is always open for you when you come back.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, Hughes noted the apology — but said she won’t be returning to Kyte Baby.
“We’re really encouraged to hear that there will be some changes made for current and future employees of the company,” said Hughes.
As of the time of writing, the first video had amassed about 2.8 million views while the second apology had about six million view.
Watch the first apology
Watch the second apology
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