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So, I sued my last employer and have a 4 year gap in my CV. How do I style this out at interview?

(17 Posts)
bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 12:17:46

My last employer changed my role when I went back after having DC1 and royally screwed me over, so I sued him. Which is all well and good but - obviously that leaves me in a situation when it comes to a ref from my last employer!

I haven't worked since either and so there is a gap in my CV whilst I've been a SAHM. In theory I have been freelance which addresses the gap on my CV (and am really keen not to let it slip that I have children until I actually am offered a job) but it doesn't bear up to much scrutiny as I have had.....0 clients in the last few years.

I've just applied for a few jobs as DS1 is startign school soon and am desperate to get back to work. But I'm not sure how to handle the obviously awkward questions that may arise! ANy advice or tips please? smile

Poledra Mon 12-Jul-10 12:21:41

I don't know what field you work in, but I would be quite happy to be told you had a career break to have your children. It might lead me to assume that you are not planning any more children, as you are coming back to work now. Which might be a positive thing...........................

bluecardi Mon 12-Jul-10 12:24:02

No experience of this but on gut feeling think you should tell it as it was. If I was employing someone who had sued their last employer I would feel concerned but, after looking at the issues, would think it good you had the courage to stand up for yourself & hopefully change things for others where you worked.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 12:34:26

Thanks for the quick responses! Poledra - clearly you are a good employer. grin But I now have a huge mistrust and assume (maybe wrongly) that many employers would prefer not to employ a woman who has children and avoid the possible aggro wrt school holidays, illnesses etc. Although maybe like you say I have the edge on a woman in her late 20's without children?

bluecardi - this would certainly make life easier as am fairly straightforward and not too good at lying stretching the truth. My last employer was a hugely bigoted sexist and racist nightmare but am aware that it doesn't reflect well on me. sad

Hard to guage what to do without knowing the individual who would be my boss I suppose.

frakkit Mon 12-Jul-10 12:37:18

When asked reason for leaving if it was discrimination you can say so quite openly.

I would be open about the career break to have children as well. It means you actually WANT to be there.

You can say that you've tried to keep your hand in by freelancing but you're right, it won't hold up to much scrutiny.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 13:24:31

I woudl much rather be upfront about the whole thing and hope for the best. I think I will have to - it will be too difficult trying to get around not using last job as a reference etc.

I suppose I just have to put my faith into people and hope they do the right thing!

(When raising the discrimination thing - how best to approach it? Obviously don't want to sound like am bitching them off but also need to make it perfectly clear that it was in no way my fault and that ex-boss's behaviour was utterly appalling!)

StealthPolarBear Mon 12-Jul-10 13:26:48

you sued and you won
State the facts - the fact you won talks for itself IMO.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 13:30:45

He actually settled out of court ten minutes after the hearing started. Does that have the same effect?

BeenBeta Mon 12-Jul-10 13:37:47

Career break and had children. Also your last employer is not allowed to refuse you a reference. That is victimisation and you can sue again.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 13:44:41

Beta - am sure he'd give me a reference but I worry about the slant he'd put on it. I had 2 days off off when I was pregnant due to illness and had to leave work early one day to go and have an emergency appt at the end of my pregnancy and both times he was immensely shitty with me and talking about warnings. I think there is some law about not being able to penalise a woman for time off taken when pregnant (not that he cared) but that's the kind of man he was and he woudl take great delight in scuppering me if he could because he's horrendous.

So am wondering if better to sidestep him completely and use someone else - last employer but one, perhaps?

CarGirl Mon 12-Jul-10 13:49:15

if you are given a bad reference you can sue for that! I think it has to be factual only, they can refuse though.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 13:51:42

(I would love to sue him again in theory but not sure I could be deal with all the faff again!) grin

FakePlasticTrees Mon 12-Jul-10 13:53:39

first of all, the fact you are going to lie about your gap is more of an issue. If my company hired someone who'd freelanced for 4 years, they'd expect to take a reference from a client, and would ask for details at interview. At this point you'd have to admit you didn't have any clients, so it would look like either you tried and was unable to get any work for 4 years, (worrying, looks like you're a bit rubbish at the job) or that you were lying and just had a child related career break.

At this point, everything else on your CV is viewed as possibly false, and needs to be checked, so that's contacting your school, uni, all previous employers etc - or a bit easier, just hire someone else who tells the truth.

As for the being a SAHM being a bad thing, you spin that as that phase of your life being over, you've done the career break, and are now ready to refocus with no more reasons for a gap. (let's face it, a mother of a school aged DS isn't going to go off to find herself on a round the world trip all of a sudden)

Re your old job, just be honest, simply state the facts and a decent employer won't be worried. And your old place have to at least give you a bare minimum reference which is to confirm your job title, the dates you were employed by them and your wage a time of leaving.

good luck!

Poledra Mon 12-Jul-10 13:55:03

TBH, BoB, I'd sidestep him for a reference. I'm assuming that referees' names are not given until after the interviews, so you will have been through the Why My Last Employer Was a Misogynistic Shithead. A reference from him would not be worth the paper it was written on.

And yes, the fact he settled 10 minutes into the hearing suggests he decided (or his lawyers finally convinced him) the case was unwinnable. I know some cases are settled out of court just to prevent the need for court costs, but that it usually done fairly quickly, not as the hearing is beginning. Significant costs have already been incurred by that point.

bintofbohemia Mon 12-Jul-10 14:27:10

Fake - yup, you are totally right and I don't want to discredit myself.

You have reminded me that I am also in a tricky situation with regard to my portfolio in that I signed a contract with my clients in which I agree not to discuss them or their identities with amyone. So whislt I do have a portfolio am on a tricky one with that, as if ex-boss found out I've divulged any info he can sue me again. (And I'm sure he'd love that too!)

Bloody hell, it's all so complicated. I just need to get back on the job ladder and keep life simple from there on in!

fridayschild Mon 12-Jul-10 14:38:44

I agree with Fake. You say you have had a delightful time at home with your infant, but now you are ready to return to work, and had always planned to do so at this stage of your child's development.

"My family is now complete" is how one candidate told us she wasn't going to get PG again, if you are worried about looking fertile.

GrendelsMum Mon 12-Jul-10 15:40:50

I agree with FridaysChild and Fake - DH recruits a lot of people, and, all else being equal, he would rather recruit a mum with school-age kids than a bright young thing who will either go round the world or go on maternity leave.

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