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Employers: women, you can have a career or a family

View profile for Maria Chadwick
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In a recent case in the Employment Tribunal, Julie Humphreys, a successful architect, argued that her employer had sidelined her out of her £105,000 a year job whilst she was on maternity leave with her second child.

Ms Humphreys found herself being asked if she wanted to be a “supermum” because she wanted both a career and a child. After heading a multi-million pound architectural project, whilst at home with her newly born baby, Ms Humphreys established that her name had been removed off the credits, with a male colleague receiving all the recognition for her work.

When Ms Humphreys complained about this to her employer, she was told that she was exhibiting "maternity paranoia" a term heard by many women who have recognised the signs of being treated differently due to having children.. Her employer further stated to the Tribunal that Ms Humphreys was feeling insecure because she was away from the office and “not in touch with what was going on”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently conducted a survey of 3,254 mothers. The survey established that:

  • One in nine mothers are either dismissed, made redundant or forced out of their job due to an employer’s treatment because of pregnancy;
  • One in five mothers have experienced harassment in the workplace in relation to their pregnancy or flexible hours application; and
  • Ten per cent of mothers are discouraged by their employer to attend antenatal appointments.

A further study conducted by the Birmingham Post revealed that 60 per cent of women face discrimination when they inform their employer of their pregnancy and 40 per cent of employers stated that they avoid hiring women of ‘child-bearing age’.  

These figures demonstrate that staggering levels of women are experiencing discrimination in the work place for wanting to not only have a career, but a family at the same time.

If you feel that you have been treated differently by your employer either during, or up to 26 weeks after your pregnancy, you may be able bring a claim under the Equality Act 2010 for pregnancy and maternity discrimination. For more information or advice, please contact our discrimination team on 0175 321 6399.

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