Thursday, September 2, 2021

The 12th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the Pregnancy Prognosticator

If I know one thing, and only one thing, as a man (okay, two things) it's these: NEVER joke about a woman's weight and never ask a woman if she's pregnant. The former will never end well. The latter may end with a lovely conversation about her impending bouncing bundle of joy and the perils of newfound parenthood. But it's also just as likely, if not more so, to end in tears and embarrassment.

An employer in the UK just learned these lessons the hard way, and earned my 12th nomination as the Worst Employer of 2021.

The Daily Mail shares the details:

A woman has won a £30,000 lawsuit against her former company after male bosses asked whether her baby was planned and allegedly took bets on how much weight she would gain in pregnancy. …

In February 2019 she told some of her colleagues she was pregnant and Craig Eddy, director of operations, asked her when she stopped taking contraception. …

In May 2019, during an executive team meeting, the same colleague told her "when you have to leave that little one at nursery, you won't want to come back".

The tribunal heard two other members of the executive team — Darren Taylor and the then divisional chief executive Paul Gisbourne — asked whether her pregnancy had been planned.

Mrs. Shipp also claimed Mr. Gisbourne said they should "put a wager on how much weight she would put on during her pregnancy" — a remark he denied making.

Her position was ultimately eliminated prior to her return from maternity leave (a fact delivered to her via email). She was offered a demotion that would have paid her £20,000 less per year, while her male co-workers who were also laid off at the same time were offered new positions at their old salaries.  Those facts, plus the (mis)statements about her pregnancy, allowed the tribunal to conclude that she had been the victim of pregnancy/maternity discrimination.

Do not joke about an employee's pregnancy or the choice she makes to have a child. It might end in an expensive lawsuit, and it might also land you on my list of worst employers.