Man claims he was fired for taking too much bereavement time

Storm victim looking for a job

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The start of 2020 has been horrible for Kevin Barnett. His parents died in the Pickens County tornado that hit just outside Carrollton in January.

Days later, Barnett lost his job over what he calls a miscommunication with his employer about approved bereavement time. "He said don’t worry about your job, just concentrate on what you need to get done,” Barnett told WBRC Wednesday.

Now, nearly two weeks after being let go from Mercedes’ sister company MB Tech, all Barnett can do is worry.

“He called me back on the 28th and said they no longer want you back,” Barnett said.

Barnett’s mother and father, Susan and Albert Barnett, both died after a tornado hit their home just outside Carrollton on January 11.

Barnett admitted he was more focused on funeral arrangements for them and driving back and forth from Vance to Carrollton to finding their missing belongings than getting a hard date to return to work.

“My father was pretty much my best friend. I was very close to my pop. And losing him and both of them at the same time was indescribable,” Barnett expressed.

Barnett showed WBRC a text he said was from a supervisor immediately after their deaths that said he could take as much time as he needed. But he was let go several days after a memorial service was held for his mom and dad.

Mercedes and MB Tech released a joint statement that said: “MBUSI and MB Tech will not discuss the personal employment situation of any of its current or former Team Members. Our MBUSI bereavement policy allows paid time off for Team Members upon the death of an immediate family member, to support them as they mourn, handle funeral arrangements and attend a funeral. Although the maximum time allowed per our policy is 40 hours, our management often works with a team member regarding their personal situation and to provide time to help them get though difficult times such as these.

Barnett hoped things would have worked out better. “I think given the circumstances, I think pretty much there was error on both parts,” he said.

Barnett is now looking for another job.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.