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Sex discrimination at work

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I'm having some problems at the minute with my employers being total arseholes. There's a big male/female pay gap in the office, they show massively favourable behaviour towards the guys, and they have made comments to myself and a couple of the other girls along the lines of there's no point giving us responsibility or progression in our jobs, cause we're female, mid-late 20s, recently married/engaged and therefore will be pissing off soon to pop out babies. They've worded it in a jokey way, but from their actions, we don't think it's a joke. Now I'm not a rampant feminist by any means, but I kind of find this intolerable.

I know that there are measures we can take - lodging complaints, putting in equal pay disputes, etc, but the reality is that in the meantime we still have to work there, and they can and will make our working lives hell. My initial reaction was to just try and get another job and leave them in their pitiful woman-hating den, but apparently I can't get another job now. Big fun.

Anyone been in this kind of situation before, and can offer any advice?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Keep a list of everything they do, every instance that you bring up the subject of equal pay etc, from jokey little comments to scheduled meetings. Log the time, what was said and how it made you feel.

    Meanwhile keep looking for another job, and then sue the ass off them
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    kangoo wrote: »
    Keep a list of everything they do, every instance that you bring up the subject of equal pay etc, from jokey little comments to scheduled meetings. Log the time, what was said and how it made you feel.

    Meanwhile keep looking for another job, and then sue the ass off them

    I agree keep a record 0of everything...they shouldn't get away with being like this!
    Are you part of a union that could help?
  • Olly_BOlly_B Mod-u-like Posts: 222 Settling in
    Hi Olive,

    Sorry to hear you are having a bad time at work.

    The law to prevent sex discrimination doesn't exist to look pretty - it exists because sex discrimination is wrong. What your employers are doing is wrong. There is no two ways about it.

    But I totally understand why you feel you don't want to rock the boat, and particularly when the economy is in the state it is and everyone wants to hold on to the job they've got, it's often easier to try and ignore the problem.

    You've obviously talked to your fellow female colleagues about the situation, but have you spoken to your male colleagues (not managers)? You might be surprised to discover that many of them probably don't like the situation (or may be unaware of it, or going along with it to fit in). And if you can get the support of some of your male colleagues as well, you turn a gender issue into a respect issue.

    As recommended by kangoo and piecesofme, keep a record of exactly what happens.

    You may find information on the EHRC website useful: Sex discrimination at work.

    You may also want to talk to ACAS on 08457 47 47 47.

    Hope all this helps.

    Best wishes,


    Olly
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks all.

    kangoo - Good plan! I'll start keeping a diary and discuss it with the other girls who'd had problems.

    piecesofme - they specify in our contracts that we can't join unions, although I *think* that legally it is our right, and there is little they can do to stop us.

    Olly - it's openly discussed in the office. I think the guys are aware of it, and not all of them are entirely comfortable, but at the end of the day, it's more money for them, and some of them get perks, too, so they don't want to rock the boat. There are two in particular who are the favourites - they often get their meals paid for, and extra time off, and while I think this causes them difficulties with the rest of the office, it is still money in their pockets, so tbh I'm not surprised they're not complaining.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd put a complaint in writing giving them a set time to fix these various issues, and if they don't i'd look at taking legal action against them, but i'd try to do it as a group
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't know if this is true or if it applies to women only or men as well but someone told me if you have a child under the age of 5 your employer by law MUST offer you flexible working hours if you request it.

    If this is true then I think it's nice in theory BUT I'm not sure if I'd agree with such a law being forced on employers for any and every job.

    For example if your job is to answer the phone and be on reception from 9am to 5pm then you can't be offered flexible working hours without having to the employer having to take on the task of finding and then training a 2nd employee or shelling out for temps which can be very costly.

    Some jobs you can work from home from time to time or during different hours but not all. The more laws trusted upon employers the worst the knock on effect might be for some women to get promoted because their employers will start thinking about what happens if they promote the woman and she later wants to have a family.

    I can kind of see things from both side's points of views. Most people here will only look at things from the worker's point of view because they've never run their own business or perhaps are too young to have managed staff yet.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    DG wrote: »
    For example if your job is to answer the phone and be on reception from 9am to 5pm then you can't be offered flexible working hours without having to the employer having to take on the task of finding and then training a 2nd employee or shelling out for temps which can be very costly.

    Tbh, if you have kids under 5 (or even if you're just a woman who looks like she might be having kids soon) you probably wouldn't have been employed for this role in the first place because your prospective employers would preempt this situation.

    IMO it's so hard for mothers, or prospective mothers, in the workplace already that any little rules like this, as outrageous as people might find it, only go a tiny way to redress the balance.
  • Olly_BOlly_B Mod-u-like Posts: 222 Settling in
    DG wrote: »
    I don't know if this is true or if it applies to women only or men as well but someone told me if you have a child under the age of 5 your employer by law MUST offer you flexible working hours if you request it.

    The law says that if you request it they MUST consider it. They don't have to offer it, primarily for the reasons that you state - there are lots of jobs where it would be totally impractical.

    However, if you felt there was a pratical way of implementing flexible working and your employer refused to consider your suggestion then you would have a case for discrimination.

    The law applies to parents (and partners of parents who are carers) of children under the age of six (this changes to 16 in April). More info.

    Olly
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I know it's been a while, but have a bit of an update. Today we found out that the boss actually said to someone that the reason he employed someone else (who's not that good) for the role that me and my workmate were supposed to take on was because we're of childbearing age, and she's older :chin:

    So anyhow, we have a meeting with HR this week anyway about another matter, so we're going to bring it up and see what they can do. We're armed to the teeth with comments now :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hmm. That's rather seriously illegal. Your meeting should be interesting.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Mist wrote: »
    Hmm. That's rather seriously illegal. Your meeting should be interesting.

    I know, I just can't believe he said it out loud!

    We knew that was the reason, but he must either be extremely cocky or extremely stupid to actually say it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    They did something in the contracts of the shop I worked in for a while that implied you couldn't join a union; it's tenuously legal if worded carefully, I think.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    They can't prevent you joining a union but they don't have to recognise it. A lot of places refuse to recognise unions. Utterly disgraceful, but you have Scargill to thank for that one.

    I'd really put in an equal pay claim. They can't do anything to you as you're protected if you're trying to enforce your statutory rights. If they do do anything, it's straight off to Tribunal again and another big payout.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Kermit wrote: »
    They can't prevent you joining a union but they don't have to recognise it. A lot of places refuse to recognise unions./QUOTE] Yes, that was it. They removed your entitlement to Union representation in appeals, etc.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    piccolo wrote: »
    Kermit wrote: »
    They can't prevent you joining a union but they don't have to recognise it. A lot of places refuse to recognise unions.

    Yes, that was it. They removed your entitlement to Union representation in appeals, etc.

    Hmm, and there was me thinking that representation at an employment appeal was a legal right. Oh, no, wait, it is.

    •The employee should have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union official
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You're right, you are entitled to take a trade union rep along with you. But most trade union reps usually won't do much for you unless you've been a member for at least 13 weeks. In unrecognised workplaces most people aren't trade union members, which is a shame.

    A company with more than 21 employees can't refuse to recognise a union if the majority of staff demand recognition. But they do, all the time.
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