Just looking for some advice... The past few days have been hell
Has anyone been subject to discrimination after they returned from maternity leave?
Here is a brief run down on events..
- i started at this company in 2004 as a trainee, put on staff after my traineeship and have been promoted twice.
- before i went in maternity leave (April 2011) i was in a team leader position - full time.
I returned to work on Jan 10th 2012, working 4 days a week. My employer agreed to 4 days prior to my return.
I had done everything right while on leave like keeping in touch etc, even came in a few days when they were desperate to help out. When i went in on the 10th, it was as if they didn't know what to do with me. My pre maternity leave position was not available due to a restructure. I was pretty much told to 'help out here and there yadda yadda yadda'.
My manager finally had something for me to do... Go and fix one of the accounts we have. I thought yeah all good... I like a challenge.
I worked 2 weeks on this account and kept asking for my paperwork from me returning. I got my new letter of offer Thursday afternoon...
I HAVE BEEN DEMOTED!!
my new letter states the position I was in when i first started at the company! ... I couldn't believe it!
Can they do this? Yeah my pay is the same... But Im coming back to equal pay but not equal status.
Im gutted... I have been at this company nearly 8 years. Is this discrimination? From what i HAVE researched they can't do this. Im at the same level as the people that used to report to me.
I would have been happy with a redundancy... Instead i think they are now trying to push me out because i requested 4 days only. They could have rejected my request on reasonable business grounds but they didn't.
I've called in sick today and seen my doctor about it and he's given me the week off due to stress (certificate just states medical condition).
I've spent all Friday and the weekend in tears... Im just shocked at what they have done.
Im thinking of calling the equal opportunity commision in the morning to see if what they have done is discrimination. I am resigning (not giving notice... Burning bridges doesn't bother me. I have impeccable references from my old boss') Im not going back. I know ill lose my 20 hours annual leave i HAVE owing but out of pride in myself i just can't go back.
My work record is outstanding! All my performance reviews have been above satisfactory.
Sorry if the above makes no sense... My head is in a million different places at the moment. I don't want to come off as a 'whinger' if i persue it but at the same time i don't want something like this to happen to other women.
Fwiw... I work in a very male dominated industry.
Has someone been in a similar situation? Im not generally someone to be all 'poor me' but its just not fair
On the bright side though... I HAVE already been approached by an ex employee of my company who has offered me a new job. 3 days a week paying what i was on 4 days at this company.
Should i just resign, take the new job and leave it be?
I hope someone out there has had similar experience... Sometimes its hard enough to be a working mum without all this crap on top of it.
Im rambling... I just don't know what to do
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23-01-2012 19:36 #1
Discrimination after maternity leave?
23-01-2012 19:51 #2
You have been discriminated against. You must be offered the same role as before you left. It sounds like you could have a redundancy based on genuine business needs (ie restructure). I'd approach your hr dept and say that the role is not the same as you were on before and ask what they are going to do. After that you can decide either way about whether you want to stay or take your new role. You could also try to argue constructive dismissal. Good luck - let us know how you go.
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23-01-2012 20:05 #3
Thanks rae... I guess i just needed to hear it from someone else's mouth.
I keep trying to tell myself 'its just a job' but when you've been at the same place for so long... Its so hard.
I Will ask to speak with HR... Im not sure if they even have a HR dept anymore after the last manager resigned. Could be interesting!!
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23-01-2012 20:15 #4
Speak to HR. Trust me, if you mention discrimination or adverse action to them they will be worried. If they are then they are incompetent!
You would actually have a claim under Fair Work (general protections) as well as EEO legislation if in fact discrimination has taken place due to you either taking parental leave, or family responsibilities (i.e part-time work) or both.
If you have a union you should speak to them and if not call Fair Work tomorrow.
Word of warning - constructive dismissal is quite hard to "prove" as not every judge will agree you were literally left with no other option so if you do resign you risk not having a claim, at least under Fair Work. Perhaps you still would under EEO but I'm no expert in that area.
Good luck and let me know if you need more info on anything. Google the general protections part of the FWA for more info on this relatively new area. It's commonly known as an adverse action claim.
24-01-2012 23:38 #5
Thank you guys!!! I have a few more developments from today...
Called in this morning to my manager to tell him I would not be in today or tomorrow and I will scan a copy of my medical certificate to send through.
Asked if we still had a HR department since our last HR girl resigned to which I was told 'he wasn't sure'... Surely you should know yeah. But anyways! He asked what it was in relation to so I told my manager in was in regards to my latest letter of offer and I had some concerns and questions. He asked if he could help with my questions so I told him I just wanted to find out why when my job technically doesn't exist due to restructure why I wasn't at least considered for a redundancy and why instead I was demoted.
He told me once again it wasn't a demotion to which I explained the situation again. He told me he would get some info for me and someone would get back to me.
I then called fairwork and the equal opportunity commission... Both agreed I have grounds to put in a complaint.
I received a call a few hours later from another manager higher on the food chain than my manager. He basically told me that under no circumstances are they discriminating against me and the offer stands. I explained I had spoken to the equal opportunity commission and I believed I was being treated unfairly. He proclaimed how great the company was for accepting my flexible arrangements and i pretty much should be greatful for that. He asked if this situation was the reason why I have called in sick this week to which I told him yes as my doctor had given me the time off due to stress. Told him I wasn't putting a workcover claim in for stress I just needed these few days off as receiving my letter of offer on Thursday is affecting me greatly. He laughed at me.... (nice guy hey)
I asked this manager what happens next if I reject the current offer and was told that if I reject the offer they have no other option but to accept my resignation! ... No negotiation, nothing! Pretty much if I refuse, I'm forced to quit.
I emailed this manager to try and get something in writing... All I wanted was something in writing to say that if I reject the offer I'm forced to quit. Not only did he email me back saying exactly that, he also said that because they accepted my flexible arrangements this is the role I'm stuck with because of that (from what I can gather this is discrimination alone!)
I got a call from one of the girls at work telling me this manager had asked her what I wrote on Facebook about this company. I'm guessing they must have heard through the grapevine something along the lines of 'did you see what xxx said on Facebook... She's pretty upset'. All I said was 'insert company name... You've broken my spirit'. As far as I can tell no harm in saying that. I haven't defamed the company at all and I think they are panicking trying to get something on me. My colleague told them 'none of his business' haha
The way these managers are speaking to me now is disgusting! You would think if an obviously distressed employee was coming to you they would handle themselves with more tact. I feel like I've done the wrong thing by standing up for my rights. This company provided equal opportunity training for all staff only last year... Obviously it's not taken seriously.
I am going in to work on Monday to hand in my resignation, effective immediately. The thought of giving them 4 weeks notice and staying there that long makes me ill. I know I'm forfeiting my entitlements but I know if I stay though a notice period they will just make my like difficult. I'm losing 22 hours annual leave owing. My sanity is worth more than that.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm not scared and intimidated... I've never been more intimidated in my life! I can really understand why some people just let it go. I just hope I'm strong enough to continue with my complaint to the equal opportunity commission.
Please someone tell me I'm doing the right thing? has anyone gone through this process before?
To end on a high note though.... I saw an old manager from my work this afternoon! I start my new job on the 22nd feb
(once again, sorry if this is all over the shop... Still trying to get my head around it all!)
25-01-2012 01:24 #6
Wow I can't believe how they have treated you and the stupidity and ignorance of the managers there, particularly the manager that emailed you!
I don't have much advice but sounds like you are doing the right thing, good luck on monday.
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25-01-2012 05:21 #7Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
My cousin was in a very similar situation on her return to work after mat leave. She'd negotiated to come back part time and just before she was due to come back was called in and told there was no job to come back to and she was made redundant. The company also made the mistake of putting in writing the fact that the part time hours meant there was no job for her.
She ended up engaging a human rights lawyer and got a substantial payout (the company did not want to go to court).
I would definitely be taking things further and at least ensuring u don't lose your entitlements. Companies should not be allowed to get away with this!
25-01-2012 06:31 #8Senior Member
- Join Date
- Sep 2011
I work in HR-that's discrimination without a doubt.
Make sure you write in your resignation letter something along the lines of "I feel I have no other option but to resign, based on my recent demotion of status in my role".
Then go to fair work, & they will support you through putting in a constructive dismissal claim--it'll win for sure.
If you're going to leave the company, you may as well get a few weeks pay for the heartache you've gone through--and of they do have a HR department, HR will freak out when they see the resignation letter written like that, they'll encourage the company to pay some "go away money" to get rid of your case through a fair work conciliation, in order to avoid it going to a legal arbitration.
It makes me so mad that companies think they can get away with this kind of thing!!!
Good luck with it all. x
Ps. Don't write anything more on FB about it!!
25-01-2012 06:33 #9
You are doing the right thing! Good on you! I would still try and stay an employee as long as possible ( i.e if you can get a medical certificate) but if that's not possible I would so the same as you and keep my sanity and quit. There is a chance they will pay out your annual leave but sounds like they are pretty mean so might not as they'll deduct it from your notice period.
Congrats on the new job anyway!
25-01-2012 07:21 #10
Good luck Hun your doing the right thing
Maybe one of the HR people on here would have a better in site/provide more info into what I'm about to say, "please do not sign a new contract with a new company until you have resigned"
I maybe completely wrong but if it goes to court could the question arise that you only resigned because of a new offer.
I agree with PP don't write anymore on Facebook (including that you have a new job) and print out what you have already written at this stage they don't know what's been written so it's only hearsay if they have been told verbally.
I wish you the very best
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