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 “She had checked her email while on leave and had deleted one or more emails, which the company considered destruction of property.” 

A veteran reporter who’d worked nearly a decade at the daily newspaper in Eugene, Ore., was fired from her job last week after up-aboves discovered she’d checked her work email while on pregnancy disability leave.

The Eugene Weekly reports that Serena Markstrom Nugent, an entertainment reporter at The Register-Guard since she graduated from college, was told that another employee would be cleaning out her desk and that she could come collect her items in the office’s reception area. That was because, as Eugene Newspaper Guild copresident Randi Bjornstad reports, “she had checked her email while on leave and had deleted one or more emails, which the company considered destruction of property.” 

Markstrom Nugent typically wrote about music for the R-G. She stands to lose her health insurance as a result of the firing, but says her baby boy will still have access to medical care. 

She told the Weekly that she believes there’s a legitimate amount of foul play at work within the firing, namely that the R-G was conspiring to fire her as soon as she got pregnant and filed Family and Medical Leave Act paperwork.

It’s then that a series of performance reviews came into play, ones that hadn’t existed before her pregnancy. A pretty gruesome professional undressing followed, all of which gets covered in the Weekly

“I didn’t want all this to happen,” she said. For checking a little email? It really shouldn’t have. 

Correction: An original version of this story stated Markstrom Nugent was taking time off for maternity leave.

Photo by VinothChandar/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Chase Hoffberger

Chase Hoffberger

Chase Hoffberger reported on YouTube, web culture, and crime for the Daily Dot until 2013, when he joined the Austin Chronicle full-time. He’s now that paper’s news editor and reports on criminal justice and politics.

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