Mother of Baby With Cancer Takes On Barclays


Attorney Harman calls Barclays' assumption "shocking, morally abhorrent, and clearly sexist."

This turn of events left Walsh very upset. Desperate to work, according to her complaint, she told Barclays she would go into any position the bank could find for her. The bank eventually responded that no positions—either part-time or full-time--were available, and that Walsh was no longer a "fit" for the group with whom she used to work.

"They said they had nothing available, and that I would be losing all my benefits. I was not expecting that."

Barclays, Britain's No. 2 bank, has been in the spotlight for its role in the interest-rate rigging scandal that had bankers conspiring to report false lending rates for an index known as Libor. More than $1 trillion in mortgages are tied to the rate. Last year, the bank was fined $360 million by US regulators for its role in the scheme. A day later CEO Bob Diamond resigned his post.

Barclays, responding to a request for comment from ABC News, says in a statement: "Barclays is committed to working with its employees to accommodate health and family needs that may arise, including accommodating leaves of absence for pregnancies and child care. Ms. Walsh requested, and Barclays approved, several requests for extended leave--beyond the time periods that would be required by law. During her extended leave, Barclays provided Ms. Walsh and her family continued health coverage benefits. Thereafter, Ms. Walsh declined to return to a full-time position that the firm had available for her."

Attorney Harman says Barclays' assertion that Walsh declined a full-time position is "patently untrue," and that he has recordings to prove it.

Walsh, he says, recorded phone conversations with Barclays HR personnel in which they state not just that no full-time position is available, but that no position at all is available. "They offered her nothing, and told her nothing was available. I have concrete evidence of that," he says.

Walsh exited the company September 6. From the beginning of her maternity leave until then, Barclays had continued paying a portion of Walsh's health insurance.

She managed to get replacement health coverage for her son via COBRA, but at cost to her of $1,800 a month. "With no income, that was very difficult." When she applied for unemployment insurance, Barclays contested her eligibility, though eventually she got it.

Asked how she has paid her bills since leaving the bank, she says, "I've been living off my savings. Before this, I'd been saving for the down-payment on a home. I exhausted that, but I've had help from my family. And my fiancée has helped."

How's her son? "He's doing well," Walsh says. "He's 20 months old now. He's got a checkup tomorrow. He has to be treated every two weeks." The form of pediatric cancer that he has is fast-growing initially but slows with age. By age 7, she says, her son ought to be cancer-free. "He's been through a lot," says the mom. "He started chemo at 7 weeks old. But he's very strong, very tough. We'll get through it."

As for what the future holds for Walsh herself, she tells ABC News: "As far as work, I've been looking. I put a lot of hours into my career, trying to get ahead. Hopefully I can continue."

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