St. Christopher's Hospital employees say paid time off being stripped away

Saint Christopher's Hospital
Photo credit Shara Dae Howard/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — St. Christopher's Hospital for Children nurses are banding together to help coworkers they say are victims of unfair treatment by their employer after employees on maternity leave lost their time off. 

Amanda Gilson gave birth to her little boy Matthew last November, but two weeks into her maternity leave, she found out her paid time off bank “would be emptied out.” 

Gilson says that news caught her by surprise.

"It was very heartbreaking and frustrating," she said. 

Gilson has worked as a nurse at St. Christopher’s for the last five years, but earlier this year, it was sold to Tower Health and Drexel University

When that happened, employees' old contracts, which included paid time off, were null and void.

"I had started saving back in August of 2018, when my husband and I decided that we wanted to have another baby," Gilson explained. 

Because she's losing paychecks that she worked for, this maternity leave is a lot more hectic than she expected.

"We're really at a loss right now. Some of our bills are going unpaid at this time for me to actually stay at home with our baby to make sure that he's taken care of properly," she said. 

Deborah Young, who has worked as a nurse at the hospital for the last 40 years, has accrued lots of time off.  

"Since the takeover, because of the bankruptcy, all paid time off has been wiped out. We requested they honor it. They will not," Young said. 

While the loss of time off is a blow to her, she's more concerned about nurses losing maternity leave, who will not be paid for the time they worked for.

"If you can imagine being at home, you just had a baby, and told you're not getting any," she said.

Young and other nurses at St. Christopher’s have started a GoFundMe for Gilson and others in her situation, and it raised thousands of dollars in just a few days.

"It's incredible. I'm so grateful for everything that they're doing. I actually broke down in tears the other day when I came across the link. It's an absolutely amazing thing," Gilson said. 

In a statement, Tower Health said in part that the situation is "the result of the bankruptcy of the Hospital’s prior owner—not because of any decision by Tower Health or Drexel University." 

The statement also noted that to address this situation, "Tower Health has provided every employee at St. Christopher’s with a year’s worth of paid-time-off that they can access immediately. We made this same offer to the nurses’ union negotiating team as part of contract negotiations and it was rejected."