When I was pregnant with my first child I attended an awareness event for a specialist role in my organisation. I was visibly showing, and when I stated I wanted to apply for the role the individual in-charge simply said: “You can’t apply to work here. You’re pregnant!”. Bold as brass. I didn’t make a complaint at the time as I thought he was right.
The real problems came whilst I was pregnant with my second child. The organisation was restructured during my maternity leave and my post was deleted. I kept phoning up as my maternity leave started to run-out, asking where I was going to work. Nobody was able to give me an answer. My maternity leave ended and I didn’t have a job to come back to, so I went onto annual leave whilst a very helpful manager (a woman) from outside of my department fought like mad to find me a role. Eventually a job was found for me in a different location many miles further from my house than the previous role. I had previously worked in a specialist department, but the role I had been found was in a completely different business area. Nobody in the hierarchy thought anything untoward had taken place.
I submitted a grievance, then I took the organisation to Employment Tribunal. The case was settled in the Court on the day of the hearing, and a confidentiality agreement prevents me from disclosing the details. However, I still work for the organisation. I cannot tell you how difficult and stressful it is to take your employer to Court whilst still being employed by them. I wanted to make the point that I was not weak or flaky, I never took a single day off work despite being exceedingly stressed. It was a horrendous time.
I still work for the same organisation in a completely different role, and I now campaign hard to improve the situation for pregnant workers. It’s hard work, but it gives me satisfaction to think that I’m fighting to change things.