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To ask if it's discrimination if...

(18 Posts)
Zipi Tue 02-Apr-19 09:36:21

I am no longer given the same opportunities at work because they know I am TTC.

I was on track for a promotion at work which I'd been working hard towards for a number of years. They had told me that this time in 6 months (over a year ago now), I would be in the position I was wanting and they were going to work with me to make that happen.

I ended up having a miscarriage of an accidental pregnancy early last year and I was left gutted. Mr and DH then decided to try and had a further 3 miscarriages last year.

For the first two I didn't tell work and went to EPU after work hours etc... They were early miscarriages so I wasn't in pain but it was obviously hard to remain professional and not end up an emotional wreck, but I managed.

After the 3rd I needed a sick note as was slightly further along and therefore it was more physical this time. Work seemed to be sympathetic and I was off for a total of two weeks.

However, now they are aware of the situation my work has been completely looked aside. There has been no further talk of working with me to do the extra tasks I was hoping for and instead I'm told 'business needs' are that I stay doing what I am doing now.

I've been doing this role for years and they are well aware I have always wanted to progress onto the next level.

They have now hired a completely new person in the role I was hoping for. When I brought this up and said I was honestly thinking I would need to start looking elsewhere, they said that would be a shame as they have cut me a lot of slack recently (referring to my time off sick) and that I obviously have other priorities in my personal life at the moment.

I am so upset, I love my work and I work damn hard. I now feel like I'm at the huge disadvantage of my employer knowing that I am TTC and therefore no longer affording me the same opportunities as anyone else because of it.

I know they are a business. But the obvious shift in progression and the comments they made have me feeling like they are discriminating towards me because they think I might require maternity leave in the future?

Di11y Tue 02-Apr-19 09:47:32

yes they absolutely are discriminating. proving it though confused

NCforthis2019 Tue 02-Apr-19 09:49:18

100% discriminating but how will you prove it...

Di11y Tue 02-Apr-19 09:49:43

talking as someone who went through a restructure and got a promotion at 7 months and went on mat leave before I'd even started- they got cover and I started when i got back 14 months later.

Zipi Tue 02-Apr-19 09:51:23

Yes, proving it would be pretty much impossible. I just wanted to know if I was being ridiculous or whether my feelings are justified.

I feel like I'd be better off leaving and starting again somewhere else that doesn't know what's happened.

NewIdeasToday Tue 02-Apr-19 09:55:04

You could look on it more positively, that they are trying to support you. It sounds like they’ve been ok to you while you’ve been off sick.

Zipi Tue 02-Apr-19 10:02:42

Newideas, I feel like there is literally nothing positive about my situation.

I've been waiting for this position for years. Assured by them constantly that when it came up, it would be mine and they were working towards that happening.

Now they have filled it with someone new and told me that because of business needs they are entitled to keep me doing the same tasks/reduce them even further.

They were ok with my whilst I was sick but what else could they be? I was signed off by a Dr.

Tubeworker Tue 02-Apr-19 10:04:19

If you have records of them talking about helping you develop into the role then it’s not all that difficult. Keep in mind this isn’t criminal law- it’s on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt. Unless the company can turn around and say “oh Zipi had a range of performance issues and we became convinced that she was never going to mature into this role” then they can’t go back on themselves especially as it would appear the trigger is your miscarriages. Only you will know if they possibly had grounds for thinking you weren’t up to the job.

It would seem to be fairly direct maternity discrimination. You need to speak to an employment lawyer though as they will be more au fait with the latest ET decisions on the matter, but happily as it’s a discrimination issue, payout on the matter is uncapped (which can mean even with legal fees it’s financially worth pursuing). If it’s a large company I’ve heard of ET decisions in the hundreds of thousands.

That said, it’s likely to spoil a relationship with your employer if you sue them, so id probably only go down that road when/if you’re ready to leave the company.

SapatSea Tue 02-Apr-19 10:05:29

Yes, discrimination but proving it is the rub. Were you not told about the new person's job being available or invited to apply? could there be a breach of legalities there? Although they could argue they wanted someone experienced.

It sounds like you are stymied for promotion at present and your hard work isn't appreciated as much as you thought it would be. Their response about "cutting you slack" given all your miscarriages is very, very harsh. I'm sorry for your losses.

They seem to be from the "no one is irreplacable" school of thought

Tubeworker Tue 02-Apr-19 10:07:09

They can’t NOT be ok with you being off sick, by the way. If you’re signed off, you’re signed off. It would be grossly illegal of them to attempt to dismiss you for a single bout of sickness (unless they could show a pattern of poor attendance/breaches of an attendance policy etc.)

In the UK you are actually allowed to be sick, and most companies offer company sick pay and so will pay you while you are off sick.

SinkGirl Tue 02-Apr-19 10:09:02

Absolutely they’re discriminating against you. It’s disgusting but sadly very common and impossible to prove - they’d be much more wary of discriminating so blatantly if you were pregnant but unfortunately because you went through such an awful time with losses, there’s little in the way of protection for you now. You could call and have a chat with ACAS but I fear there’s nothing you can do about it unless the comments about your “private life” (the nerve of having a life outside work, shame on you! 🙄) were in writing, but I’m sure they’re smarter than that.

Your feelings are absolutely bang on though. It’s whether you want to look for another job now and potentially lose out on your current maternity package if/when you do go on maternity leave (crossing everything for you), or stick around and put up with it / benefit from having less stress than you would if promoted while trying to conceive.

They clearly don’t give a shit about you so don’t be bending over backwards for them either.

Zipi Tue 02-Apr-19 10:32:28

Thank you. I'm glad to know I'm not being overly dramatic even if can't necessarily prove it!

Jacketpotatoes Tue 02-Apr-19 12:57:45

YANBU that sounds awful!

EL8888 Tue 02-Apr-19 13:04:09

Yep feels like discrimination to me. But proving it would be tough l think. It depends on what their maternity package is. If it’s a decent deal then l would stick with them, get maternity out of them, come back for the bare legal amount of time so you don’t need to repay anything and then leave for a new job. They have got a fair bit out of you by the sounds of it, it’s now your turn. If it’s not such a great maternity deal and you can’t face staying then l would look for another job. Good luck with it all, especially conceiving. Nothing like a kick in the teeth when you are down

ThatLibraryMiss Tue 02-Apr-19 13:38:43

Are you in a union? Your union rep will be able to advise you. If you don't have one in your workplace, ring your local branch.

AmIRightOrAMeringue Tue 02-Apr-19 14:22:30

Yes they are discriminating. Unfortunately it's very common and widely accepted.

They are not allowed to treat you any differently because you're pregnant or on maternity or planning maternity and thay does include any pregnancy related absence. Effectively they have to completely ignore it if it was to do with being pregnant.

I'd try and get something in writing about why you were passed over for this promotion even if they make something up it will still give you something to work towards next time (so you can say you said it was because I'd not done x y and a and now i have). Is there no rule in your company about advertising roles internally and giving everyone who meets the criteria chance to apply? If so I'd ask in writing why this wasn't done

AmIRightOrAMeringue Tue 02-Apr-19 14:24:19

If you Google rights on maternity leave or is this maternity discrimination there are lots of examples that show clearly they are not allowed to treat you differently due to being off with pregnancy related illness - might be worth forwarding them this information if you are putting anything in writing to them

Tubeworker Tue 02-Apr-19 14:39:49

If you Google rights on maternity leave or is this maternity discrimination there are lots of examples that show clearly they are not allowed to treat you differently due to being off with pregnancy related illness - might be worth forwarding them this information if you are putting anything in writing to them

That would be good advice if you seriously thought they would read it and go “oh wow, what we did was maternity discrimination! Better correct that little whoopsie!”

Rather than what will actually happen: “oh shit, she’s aware that we have some exposure on an uncapped liability issue. Right- can we manage her out? Or do we just sack her and wear the risk?”

Because right now, if I was the manager and I thought there was a chance you might win a discrimination suit I wouldn’t bother waiting, id sack you outright and take the licks for unfair discrimination (which is capped at 1 years salary). Even better, id start looking for performance issues and start performance managing you with a view to sacking you when your performance “fails to improve” (given as almost everyone has gaps in their performance, no-one does their job perfectly).

100% do not indicate to your management that you believe you have been discriminated against until you are prepared to pull the trigger. It will totally and probably irrevocably sour the relationship. Telling people they’re breaking the law is not usually a means to make them stop breaking the law, it’s why we have employment tribunals to enforce the law.

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