Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just in case you thought there was no discrimination against women these days

I was horrified to see the BBC report that the Silverwells Hotel in Bothwell has been ordered to pay £29,000 to a former employee they demoted from manager to waitress when she told them she was pregnant. The loss of income led her to reach the decision to terminate the pregnancy as she wasn't sure she'd be able to support the baby.

That is a completely unacceptable way to treat anybody and I'm glad that the Tribunal has recognised the harrowing experience this woman has been through.

The woman concerned has not been named, but she recounted what happened to her when she told her boss she was pregnant:

"He asked what I intended to do. I told him I intended to go ahead with the pregnancy," she said.A week later she was called into the office by operational director Roberto Cecchetti and told that she was being demoted to a waitress as her work was not up to standard.This was despite the fact that she was promoted two months earlier.The tribunal heard the woman was offered two days work a week on minimum wage when previously she had been earning £24,000 a year.

No amount of money can make up for that, but at least the payment, which I hope she gets without any problems, will give her a bit of a cushion.

This awful experience is one reason why it makes me feel very uneasy at the idea that the Coalition Government might try to water down employment rights. There's certainly no suggestion that the protections for pregnant women might be reduced, but there is talk of doubling the qualifying period for an Employment Tribunal from one year to two. With employers like those at the Silverwells Hotel around, we have to make sure that hard-won employment and equality rights are protected.


mickeyjack said...

Its just tragic that it has come to this and there seem to be more and more cases. I blogged about this yesterday.

tris said...

It couldn't possibly have been that she was a good enough waitress to be promoted, but a crap manager? It does happen, indeed it happens quite a lot, that a person is good at doing a hands-on job, but is useless at organising other people (who were once just colleagues) to do it, not to mention crap with paperwork etc.

It doesn't always have to be women. I've known men who were over promoted.

cynicalHighlander said...

Its not just women that are discriminated against!
UK government apologises after e-petition says rioters should be sent to Scotland

The petition, which closed yesterday, urged the Ministry of Justice to send anyone convicted of rioting to the Outer Hebrides for five years away from the “comforts of English living”.

Emily said...

@Tris - That is the case the hotel will have made and what the tribunal was investigating. Most manager are not stupid enough to say "You are being demoted because you are pregnant" because that is clearly breaking the law. However, given that the only information we know is that the woman won her tribunal, it seems reasonable to assume she was demoted unfairly, rather than reaching for reasons to blame her for the companies behaviour.

mickeyjack said...

Given that the tribunal ruled in her favour, I am more likely to be inclined to believe her rather than her ex employer.

Women face enough prejudices in the work place even in this day and age without this kind of idiocy carrying on. I just hope as Caron says above that the government does not mess about with the employment tribunals so much so that people cannot get recompense for when an employer treats them badly.

tris said...

Yes Emily, I'll grant you that that is a good point. (Although with my experience of management, I wouldn't be in the least surprised at anything, no matter how stupid, that they did.)

I'm not particularly enamoured of tribunals either. They can be stupid too. However, I agree with mickeyjack. Rights may start to disappear like "sna' aff a dyke" as my gran says. And the Tories are just the ones to do that.


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