Workplace Discrimination: New Mom Wins $255,000 From Employer Who Denied Her Reduced Hours Request

Photo: (Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A first-time mother has won her workplace discrimination case against her employer, who has agreed to pay $255,000 in a settlement after she was denied her request to reduce her working hours so she could pick up her daughter in childcare.

Alice Thompson, who worked as a real estate agent, asked her employers at Manors if she could leave the office at 5:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m. because she had to fetch her daughter at the childcare center. Thompson also asked if she could work four days a week to tend to her child.

However, Manors never "seriously considered" her request nor made a counter-offer to help the working mother. She claimed the company did not listen to her, so she resigned from her job and then decided to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit.

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Right to Request Flexible Working Hours

In the United Kingdom, employees working for 26 weeks in a company are allowed to request flexible working hours. While employers don't necessarily have to give in to the request, employees are entitled to be heard so they can negotiate. They are also supposed to be given a decision within three months of their request.

Thompson has been working as a real estate agent for ten years and believes that this isn't an easy feat since it's a "male-dominated environment to work in." She got pregnant in 2018 and then took maternity leave. She was looking to return to the workforce and restart the career she has been building for many years when her daughter was old enough to attend daycare school.

The employee tribunal that heard Thompson's workplace discrimination case said she suffered "indirect sex discrimination" from her employers. The judges sympathized with the working mother, described in court documents as determined, familiar with the market, and knew her team well.

After losing her job, the tribunal said that Manors has to compensate Thompson for "her loss of pension contributions, loss of earnings, and injury to feelings and interest." However, the courts didn't agree to her other claims of unfair dismissal, as well as harassment during pregnancy and maternity leave.

Thompson said that the lawsuit was costly and exhaustive, but she knew she made the right decision to fight for herself, which could help other women. The mom said she doesn't want her daughter to experience workplace discrimination in 20 or 30 years.

Workplace Discrimination in the U.S.

Meanwhile, discrimination against mothers in the U.S. workplace is also rampant. Since the pandemic, more than 2.3 million have quit their jobs due to childcare issues, according to a Time Magazine report. 

Data from the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve cited that American mothers with children below 12 years old were three times more likely to have given up or lost their jobs in the pandemic. Latina and Black women are the most affected population amid this growing trend.

From April 2020 to February 2021, at least 58 workplace discrimination lawsuits have been filed by parents in the U.S. However, most of these cases are unprecedented during a public health crisis, wherein a significant number of parents, especially moms, are forced to choose between family and career.

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