Ying Liu: CEO of Baby Clothing Company Apologizes After Being Blasted for Firing Worker Who Asked to Work Remotely When Her Newborn Was Hospitalized

Liu also offered Hughes her job back, assuring her of full benefits and the option to work remotely, as initially requested.

The CEO of the clothing brand Kyte Baby has issued two apologies following allegations that an employee was denied the option to work from home after adopting a 22-week-old premature baby. Ying Liu, the founder of Kyte Baby, publicly apologized to Marissa Hughes via TikTok, first on Wednesday and for a second time on Thursday.

Hughes, a former employee, was fired after requesting to work remotely from the neonatal intensive care unit at a Texas hospital where her premature baby was being treated. The hospital was nine hours away and it was difficult for Hughes to leave the child and travel to work every day for which she was fired.

Apologizing in Bid to Damage Control

Ying Liu
Ying Liu, the CEO of Kyte Baby, apologized to Marissa Hughes X

"I really want to apologize to her and the community, and I really want to take this opportunity to say that I'm sorry," Liu said in a second apology video Thursday.

Ying Liu had first posted an apology the day before, but in response to criticisms that it sounded "scripted," she promptly issued a second apology to address concerns and clarify her stance.

"I want to hop on here to sincerely apologize to Marissa for how her parental leave was communicated and handled in the midst of her incredible journey of adopting and starting a family," she said.

Marissa Hughes and her husband Rawley, of Dallas, adopted their baby, Judah Al Haven Hughes, in late December after receiving a call from their adoption agency.

Judah was located nine hours away in El Paso, Texas, where he was born prematurely at 22 weeks and weighed barely a pound, as revealed by the new family in a GoFundMe campaign.

Ying Liu
Ying Liu X

Due to Judah's premature birth, he has "various health concerns" and needs an extended hospital stay. The family shared in the GoFundMe campaign that they expected him to be discharged from the NICU by the end of March. The fundraiser has raised nearly $40,000.

While Hughes has not publicly commented on her firing, it is said that she had requested to work remotely from the hospital during her baby's admission but was allegedly offered only two weeks for this arrangement.

Realizing Her Mistake

Since the new mom has been at Kyte Baby for less than a year, she does not qualify for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must work for a company with over 50 employees and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the requested leave, according to the Department of Labor.

Marissa Hughes and Rawley
Marissa Hughes and her husband Rawley with their newborn baby X

FMLA typically provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while allowing them to retain certain benefits, including healthcare.

Adoptive parents are also eligible for maternity leave if it is offered by their company. However, it is unclear whether Kyte Baby provides such leave.

Hughes, who suffered from infertility before choosing adoption, was reportedly informed that if she did not return after two weeks, she would lose her position at Kyte.

Her sister, in a now-deleted TikTok video, disclosed that another Kyte employee who was pregnant received leave and was even invited to the company's warehouse to collect products from her registry.

Ying Liu acknowledged that she personally vetoed Hughes' request to work remotely and admitted that, in hindsight, it was a "terrible decision, insensitive, and selfish."

"[I] was only focused on the fact that her job has always been done on-site and I did not see the possibility of doing it remotely," the baby brand owner said in the TikTok video.

"I cannot imagine the stress she had to go through not having the option to go back to work and having to deal with a newborn in NICU," Liu continued. "Thinking back, it was really a terrible mistake. I own 100% of that."

Marissa Hughes
Marissa Hughes X

In response to the criticism, Ying Liu stated that she would review Kyte Baby's HR policy and procedures, acknowledging the need for the company to "set the example." Liu praised Hughes as a "fantastic woman" with the "biggest heart."

Liu also offered Hughes her job back, assuring her of full benefits and the option to work remotely, as initially requested. Liu also said that Hughes would continue to receive payment until she decides to return.

"Your original position is always open for you when you come back," she said. As of now, it is unclear whether Hughes will return to the Dallas-based company.