NEW WATERFORD, N.S. – When Kayla Maclean had a lingering cough after contracting COVID-19 in late January, she wasn’t initially concerned about returning to the daycare where she works.
The 30-year-old New Waterford resident, who is double vaccinated, knew it was related to her asthma and she had isolated longer than the seven-day period that Nova Scotia Health requires. Her workplace, Brins de Soleil daycare in Sydney, asked her to provide two negative COVID-19 tests and get cleared by a doctor to return to work, so she made an appointment with a clinic.
Maclean submitted the requested doctor’s note, signed by Dr. Maddy Ziss of the Sydney Perinatal Clinic. The note reads that “per public health rules, Kayla is fit to go back to work. She is long since finished her … isolation period.”
The daycare’s management didn’t feel the note was sufficient and requested a second.
“(My boss) told me that it didn’t specify that (my cough) was due to my asthma and not COVID,” said Maclean.
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The Cape Breton Post reached out to the Brins de Soleil daycare, which confirmed this.
“The note that Kayla supplied us with was from a pregnancy clinic, we needed it (to be) from her doctor or a doctor stating the cough was not contagious and it was due to asthma,” said Rokhaya Doucouré, director of the daycare, adding that the doctor’s note contained “unprofessional mistakes.”
“I had spoken to Kayla specifically asking the note to address the cough, and then she would have been cleared to come back to work.”
Maclean, who had been working at the daycare since November 2018 as an early childhood educator (ECE), felt that the note she’d given was sufficient, adding that she had been off work for three weeks.
“So then (Doucouré) told me to call 811 and get reassessed by an 811 nurse,” said Maclean. “And I said I was just at my doctor and got reassessed by (them), that wouldn’t make any sense. So then I told her I’d see her Monday because I’m technically allowed to go.”
The daycare insisted that Maclean either get a second doctor’s note specifically addressing the cough or stay home from work until the symptom subsided.
“I had called 811 and the public health nurse had said to me that (Maclean) was not able to return until the symptoms were gone,” said Doucouré. “I had asked if her cough could have continued from her asthma and the public health nurse told me she would have to speak directly with Kayla to assess her symptoms.”
Doucouré shared a text message conversation that she had with Maclean regarding her request for her to call 811 and get a second opinion.
“I already been at the doctor,” says Maclean in the conversation. “I don’t have time to sit here with four kids waiting on 811. I’m not doing it. I will be there Monday.”
Maclean lives with her husband and their four children and is currently pregnant with her fifth child. She was due to start maternity leave in the spring.
Doucouré said that conflict between the two ensued after conversations over text, over the phone and over email, adding that Maclean became increasingly heated and disrespectful.
Doucouré eventually asked Maclean to sign an attitude form acknowledging insubordination, in addition to either presenting a second doctor’s note or waiting until all her symptoms had subsided, in order to return to work.
“Review and accept all these conditions or you are no longer authorized to continue working at Brins de Soleil daycare,” the email from Doucouré to Maclean states.
Maclean refused to sign the attitude form or agree to the other conditions, and was terminated on Feb. 10 due to “serious insubordination,” “refusal to comply with directives” and “unacceptable behaviour,” according to her termination letter.
Kayla Maclean: “I did give (Doucouré) a note from my doctor stating I was fit to go back to work.” CONTRIBUTED – Contributed
Maclean said she is now speaking with the Department of Labour and is considering taking action against the daycare as she feels she was wrongfully terminated.
“I think (Doucouré) had it planned to fire me because she knew I’m supposed to go on maternity leave on May 1,” said Maclean.
“I did give (Doucouré) a note from my doctor stating I was fit to go back to work,” Maclean wrote in a Feb. 10 email to Atika Bayebane, executive director at the Centre Communautaire Etoile de L’Acadie, which the daycare is attached to, following her termination.
“Per public health rules, you are able to return after the seventh day no matter if it’s a daycare or not with a lingering cough. Rokhaya says a lot (of) bull crap to protect herself but what she’s been doing to me and other staff since I’ve been there is not acceptable and not professional at all.”
Doucouré said Maclean’s termination has nothing to do with her pregnancy and is only about the attitude she displayed toward her. Doucouré said she has never been treated by an employee the way Maclean treated her.
“My boss is very understanding with all of the staff,” said Jessica Allen, an ECE at Brins de Soleil daycare, of Doucouré. “There’s four other staff members in this daycare and we can all vouch for my boss.”
Maclean said she has never been written up before in the nearly four years she worked at the daycare and said she found it to be a “really toxic (work) environment.”
“I never had (any) breaks, that’s why I ended up going down to part-time because it was just too overwhelming. We were always over ratio,” she said, referring to the required ratio of staff-to-children for child-care facilities.
Doucouré said she feels she has always been adaptable with Maclean, hiring another worker when the ECE was no longer able to work afternoons and inviting her to bring her children to the daycare for free on days she was unable to find childcare.
“I’ve always accommodated her,” said Doucouré. “Honestly. … But enough is enough. She’s had no respect for me.”
– Jessica Smith is a breaking news, human interest, environment and climate change reporter at the Cape Breton Post. Follow her on Twitter at @CBPost_Jessica.